History of Goshen 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


Goshen township lies in the extreme southeastern part of the county and falls entirely within the Virginia Military Survey. It is approximately eight miles from north to south and four and a half miles from east to west, containing about twenty two thousand six hundred and ninety three acres, exclusive of the mile square contained within Mechanicsburg.

The fact that Goshen township is entirely within the Virginia Military Survey is responsible for the irregular shape of its farms and the apparent haphazard method which has been followed in the laying out of roads, When it is taken into consideration that there are no fewer than seventy three different military surveys wholly or in part within the township, it may be seen that some of them must be small in size. Sixteen of them are less than one hundred acres in area and four of these are fifty acres and less. The largest survey in the township is Ruffin's survey, No. 6195; there are two, 4212 and 6349, with two thousand acres each; No. 7311 has nineteen hundred and fifty eight acres and three others are one thousand to twelve hundred acres in extent. What has been said concerning the sale of these tracts in other townships containing them holds true in this township. As far as is known not one of the old soldiers to whom the particular surveys were granted ever settled on the tract which a generous state gave them. The old soldiers turned their tracts or the certificate calling for the same over to an assignee and the latter had the right either to enter the land, if it had not already been entered, or he could, in turn, assign his interest in it to a second assignee. In a large number of cases in Champaign county there are two assignees for a survey and three and even four are sometimes found.


In the appended list of original proprietors will be seen a number with more than one survey. This has come about as a result of the owner in question buying up the entire survey which had been entered, or else buying the certificate of the old soldier and then entering the land himself. In any case the deed to the land in Champaign county is recorded in the name of "original proprietor," which means the owner of the land at the time the first sale was made to a bona fide settler. The appended list gives the original proprietors of the seventy three different surveys wholly or partly within Goshen township, together with the number of the survey and the number of acres:

Survey No.



Original Proprietor.




T. M. Bayley




James Galloway




Stanton & Bayley




A. Kerr




James Fowler




N. Lamme


911 2/3


T. M. Bayley

5304, 5976 & 5300........



R. Means & D. Mason




George Hoffman




William Washington




James Galloway




T. M. Bayley

8462 & 8571



James Galloway

5408 & 5485



John Cole




Charles Spencer




John Massenburg




T. M. Bayley




D. Mason




T. M. Bayley




J. Clark




R. Apperson




M. Arbuckle




Strother Jones




Ladd & Norville




Joseph McNutt




Robert Means




R. P. Thompson & P. Patton




Thomas Ruffins James Askew




Robert Means


382 1/3


William Reynolds




Edward Tiffin


666 2/3


Duncan McArthur




Robert Means




Duncan McArthur




Edward Tiffin




George Dawson




Richard Kennon




P. F. R. Lee


566 2/3


Robert Means

5572 & 10905



Charles Spencer




James Galloway




Jesse McCay




Benjamin Cheney




Benjamin Cheney




Benjamin Cheney


816 2/3


W. M. Thorne




Theodoric Spain




L. Goodal




P. Minor




P. F. R. Lee




Benjamin Cheney




Joseph Spencer

8703 & 8767



Walter Dunn




Abram Shepherd

4695 & 13768



Joseph Parker


248 1/3


Duncan McArthur




B. Stubblefield




John Fowler & John Cole




Joseph Towler

6444 & 6451

943 1/3


James Galloway




James Galloway




B. Stubblefield




Walter Dunn




W. M. Langborn




John Dawson




Theodoric Spain




Walter Dunn




N. Hobson




Henry Beam




William Anderson




George Dawson




Walter Dunn


The surface of Goshen township is rolling in most part, but not to the extent that the land is rendered unsuitable for tillage. Originally the township was heavily forested and within the memory of many still living half of the township was still covered with forests. While most of the deciduous trees of this latitude are found in the township - that is, such trees as the maple, ash, hickory, elm, oak, walnut, linden, cottonwood, sycamore, etc., yet it is said that the beech has never been found within the limits of the township. The soil is uniformly fertile, the lower stretches being covered with a heavy sandy loam, while the upper regions consist of a dark colored soil, partaking of the qualities of loam and clay. There is very little pure clay outcropping in the township.

The rolling character of the township facilitates its natural drainage and has enabled the farmers to raise good crops with a minimum amount of artificial drainage. However, many of the best farmers have put in tile ditching and have found that they get better crops even though the soil was apparently sufficiently drained previously. Most of the township is drained into Darby creek on the east and slopes therefore to the east. Treacles creek runs nearly due east and west through the northern part of the township within a mile and a half from the northern boundary. The next stream towards the south drains a good sized basin through the middle of the northern half of the township. The central portion is drained by Darby creek and its several small tributaries, one extending northward along the west side of the township and another to the southwestern corner of the township. The southeastern part of the township is drained by two small streams which find thier way into Darby creek. The presence of these many small waterways in the early days of the county was a fortunate thing for the settlers because it provided ample water power for their little grist and saw mills. For it must be remembered that the first settlers in Goshen were here before the steam engine had been perfected.

In the early days of the county there were a number of ponds and some of these were of such a size as to be dignified with the name of lake. Probably the best known is Bakers lake, which is located in the northern part of the city of Mechanicsburg. This lake is still to be seen and is not much smaller than it was when the county was organized. The other lake is variously known as Fudger lake and Little lake. It is about two miles northeast of Mechanicsburg.


The present system of excellent roads had its inception in 1867, just half a century ago. However, it must not be understood that the township was without improved roads before that time. Very early in the history of the township there were a few of the main traveled roads which received more attention than the others. In the latter part of the forties private companies were organized to build what were known as toll roads; that is, the company built the road and then charged a certain rate per mile for its use. This rate was based upon the number of horses or animals driven by the travelers: Usually two cents per mile for a one horse vehicle; two and a half cents for two horse conveyances, etc.

Four roads were built by private companies and these same roads are in use today, although they have long since been taken over by the township. The first of these roads ran from Jefferson in Union county through Mechanicsburg to Urbana and was begun in 1848. The first macadamized road in the county was constructed in 1914. The first mile of this road is west of Mechanicsburg, and is as fine a road as is in the county today. The second road began about a mile from Mechanicsburg on the Jefferson road and branched off toward London, the company building only to the Union county line. The third road was the Mechanicsburg-Springfield pike, while the fourth road was the one running east of Mechanicsburg to Liverpool. These roads eventually passed to the control of the township, the Mechanicsburg-Liverpool road being the last to become a free road. After the Legislature of 1867 changed the road laws the township began the construction of the Mechanicsburg-Catawba road and the Mechanicsburg-Lewisburg road. These six roads which have been enumerated are the main roads of the township in 1917. The Urbana-West Jefferson inter county highway passes through Goshen township.


Goshen township was one of the first in the county to be settled and contains the second oldest town in the county, Mechanicsburg, dating from 1814. The township was a part of Franklin county prior to the organization of Champaign in 1805 and a number of settlers or squatters had arrived in the township while it was still a part of Franklin county. When Champaign county was organized in 1805 the territory now within Goshen township was included in Salem township. Owing to the absence of the commissioners' records it is not certain when Goshen township was organized, but when Union township was organized in 1811 Goshen was made a part of it. The population of this new township of Union increased so rapidly during the next three years that by 1814 (or 1815) the commissioners divided Union into two equal parts, the western half retaining the old name of Union and the eastern half being given the Biblical appellation of Goshen. Who was responsible for the name is not known, but it was presumably suggested by the settlers who petitioned for the organization of the township.

As near as can be determined the township was officially set off in spring of 1815, the year which saw the close of the War of 1812, and the election for the first township officers was held the week after Napoleon "met his Waterloo." On June 24, 1815, three justices of the peace were elected and, while it is not definitely known whether this was the first election or not. yet the evidence points to it as being such. Thirty one votes were cast. The judges were James Owen, Benjamin Brown and John. Armstrong; the clerks were John Cory and John Kain, the latter being the founder of the village of Mechanicsburg; the successful candidates were John Owen, William Bay and John Brittin. The farmers were evidently busy on that day and did not turn out for the election, since on October to, 1815, four months later, there were sixty votes cast.


The historian who attempts to assert definitely who the first settler in Goshen township was finds himself involved in a maze of contradictory statements. Few of the earlier settlers entered land and being only squatters they left no official record of their existence. Many of these first squatters refused to buy land when it was placed on the market and moved on to newer locations rather than make the effort to secure a home in the township. Undoubtedly there were settlers here before 1805, but who they were or where they settled are facts which will probably never be known.

The first settler to leave any official record of his arrival in the county and township is Jacob Hazle, a native of Pennsylvania, who came to the township about 1805. The deed for the three hundred and twenty four acres of land which he purchased was recorded on January 28, 1812. After buying the land Hazle returned to his home in Pennsylvania and did not return to the county until two or three years later. In the meantime his father, Henry Hazle, and his brother-in-law, Thomas Lawson and wife, came to. the township and located on the tract purchased by Jacob Hazle. This farm was located in the extreme northeastern portion of the township.

Joseph Cummings, a native of Massachusetts, arrived in the township in 1806 with his family, and located north of Little lake. Joseph Cummings and Sally Porter were born and married in Massachusetts, leaving their native state in 1790 for western Pennsylvania. In I95 they went to Marietta. Ohio, and in 1806 drove over to Champaign county. When they came here they had one son and three daughters, and one son was born after they moved to this county. Joseph Cummings died in 1813 and his son of the same name took tip the burden of providing for the family. Joseph Cummings, Jr., was. with Hull at Detroit and was taken prisoner, but filially made his escape and returned home. He lived in Ohio until 1844 and then moved to Van Buren county, Iowa. His wife died in 1853 and in 1856 he located in Indiana, where he lived with his daughter until his death in 1867.


Hugh Bay came to Goshen township in 1806 and located just north of Cummings (survey No. 5408), where he lived the remainder of his days. The same year brought John Brittin to the township and saw him located on a tract about a mile northeast of Mechanicsburg. The year 1808 introduced a number of new settlers into the township: Joseph Porter located north of Mechanicsburg near Joseph Cummings and was the first person buried in the Brittin cemetery, his death occurring in September, 1809. Richard Corbis came from what is now Union township to Goshen in 1808 and located a mile south of Mechanicsburg, this settler being remembered as the only one who had a wagon in the township for a number of years. Theodoric Spain settled next to Richard Corbis, Ile being one of the family of that name who were so largely identified with the early history of Wayne and Rush townships. Jonathan Brown, William Frankberger, John Cowan, John Pepper and William Burnside were others who arrived about 1808 or before.

William Burnside is probably the most interesting of this group of old pioneers. He came to the township and first settled south of Mechanicsburg and is credited with establishing the first blacksmith shop in the county. In 1812 he went to Urbana and was employed by the government there as a blacksmith. He was under Captain Thorpe and later when the army of Hull marched out he went along as a member of a militia company. About 1820 Burnside moved to Madison county, where he died in 1822, his wife surviving him until 1855. One of the sons of this old pioneer blacksmith was Joel Burnside, who was about six years of age when the family came to the county in 1808. While the family was in Urbana the boy served as special cook for Captain Thorpe. This son located on a farm in Goshen township later and lived there until 1875 when he moved to Mechanicsburg to spend his declining years.


These early pioneers made friends with the Indians and lived in peace and amity until the opening of the War of 1812 caused practically all the aboriginals to leave the county. It appears that there was no Indian village in Goshen township, but they oftentimes camped along the streams when they were hunting in the county.

During the War of 1812 a number of the settlers of Goshen township, then a part of Union township, served at the front. Among the number who belonged to a local company which was sent to a blockhouse in Logan county, on the farm of a man by the name of Menary (hence the Ft. Menary, often referred to in local newspapers), were Jacob Hazle, William Burnside, Hugh Bay, John Frankberger, William Kelley, Nelson Lansdale and Joshua Shepherd. The captain of this local militia company was Abner Barret, often given as the first permanent settler of Wayne township. This local company was on duty at the blockhouse during July and August, 1813, and it was while they were there that a man by the name of Thomas and son were killed by the Indians in that vicinity. The two victims of Indian savagery were brought to Urbana and buried. While the company were at the blockhouse an alarm was given and a number of the settlers gathered at the house of John Frankberger for mutual protection, but there was no cause for apprehension.


A large number of settlers came to the township during the War of 1812 and immediately after the close of that struggle there was a decided increase in the influx of settlers. In fact so pronounced was the migration that in 1814 John Kain felt that there was a sufficient number of people to justify the platting of a village in about the center of the township and thus Mechanicsburg began its official career on August 6, 1814. The chapter on Mechanicsburg presented elsewhere in this volume reviews at length the record of a large number of the early settlers of the central part of this township. It may be said that in 1814 (or 1815), the same year the township was organized, it had more actual settlers than Union township, from which it had been set off. Among those prominent in this year were Jonathan Doty, Benjamin Griffin, John and Philip Winans, William Woods, Christopher, Henry and George Millice, Thomas and Richard Lansdale, Ferral Baker, William Cheney, John Sherry, Samuel Mars, Alexander McCorkle and Insine Mitchell.


The first grist mill in the township was started on the present site of Mechanicsburg about 1812 and, according to tradition, the settlers went together to build the race to provide the water for the mill. It ground only corn, since there was no way of bolting flour even if they had had the wheat to grind. The few settlers who had any wheat had it ground in the corn buhr and then did their own bolting. In 1818 the first mill was succeeded by a much better one, operated by one Andrew Staley. This mill of 1818 gave way to the third mill in 1840, Staley still being the owner, and he continued as the village miller until 1875. This mill is still in operation in 1917 under different management, a full account of which is given in the history of the town. In 1823 Jonathan Cheney put up a second mill along Darby river, west of the present site of Mechanicsburg, and since that time the town has had two flouring mills. The Cheney mill later became known as the Hunter mill.

Treacles creek, which runs practically parallel with the northern boundary of the county and about a mile from it, was the site of two mills early in the history of the township. One was located in the northwestern corner of the township near where the road crosses Treacles creek. It is not known who was the first owner of the mill but it was later known as the Woodward mill. It was discontinued during the latter part of the seventies. Joseph Coffey bought it from John Woodward in 1883, and moved it to a new location and converted the building into a barn. The other mill on Treacle creek is located about a quarter of a mile east of the Mechanicsburg Woodstock pike. It made its appearance as early as 1823 and for years was known as the Darrow mill. It was in the hands of the Darrow family when it closed its career as an industrial establishment in the latter part of the seventies.

Another industry of bygone days was a distillery which stood about four miles south of Mechanicsburg near the Catawba pike. It was built by Eli Baldridge and a man by the name of Merrill shortly after the close of the War of 1812. It is known to have been in operation in 1817 and to have continued in business until 1824. It is recorded that a Methodist exhorter, William Bay by name, was once a partner in the business. In those days the manufacture and use of whiskey were not regarded with that degree of disfavor bestowed by the present generation. The best people drank - saints and sinners, the good, the bad, men and women, and little was thought about it. People went to the distillery then with their corn with less hesitancy than they now take grain to mill to be ground. It has taken about a hundred years for people to get their eyes open - and some still have imperfect vision.

The largest industrial plant outside of Mechanicsburg in Goshen township was the old woolen factory which stood just east of the town, This was established before the Civil War and continued in operation under various owners for many years. It was known in later years as the Stewart & Mickle woolen factory.


There have never been any towns platted in the township except Mechanicsburg. For several years there has been a store in the extreme northwestern corner of the township and the site of the store and a house or two so impressed the men connecetd with the United States geological survey that they have labeled it "Crimville." The store is now in charge of John Crim and he likewise is the owner of the only other house in the village of Crimville.

There is a hamlet half a mile east of Mechanicsburg on the Liverpool pike. It contains probably two hundred inhabitants and has a store and blacksmith shop. It seems to owe its origin to a carpenter by the name of Bryan, an Englishman, who built a number of houses on either side of the road. He sold the houses at such a price as to attract a number of people to his embryonic village and in the course of time the cluster of houses became known as Nashville. It is not certain when the name was first applied, who applied it, or the reason for the application, but it has been known as Nashville for more than half a century. A blacksmith by the name of Robinson built a shop east of town and between his shop and Guy's tile factory were found the houses of carpenter Bryan. The owners of the new houses found employment in the tile factory or on the Wing farms. The place has never been platted. G. C. Clemons has a general store in the village in 1917.

The Hunter mill has been dismantled for several years; the woolen factory ceased operation about woo; the tile factory closed its career in 1917; the cheese factory went out of business about 1880. All of these industries were flourishing a quarter of a century ago, but in 1917 their respective careers are remembered only by those of a generation ago. The times change, mills come and go, and these once thriving mills and factories of Goshen township have disappeared never to return.

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