BY FR. JEREMIAH CONVERSE.
ON the 30th day of April, 1810, the Commissioners of Madison County created this township, and we find on record
the following, under the head of that date: "Ordered, that all that tract of country comprised in the following
boundaries be, and the same is hereby created into a separate township, to be known by the name of Darby, and is
bounded as follows. to wit: Beginning at the upper corner of Jefferson Township, thence north with said line to
Delaware County; thence with said line east, to the northwest corner of Franklin County; thence with said line
to the place of beginning." This creation existed for only one year, and was then declared void. The reason
for this action is not given, but we find the following record under date of June 11, 1811: "At a meeting
of the Commissioners of Madison County, ordered, that all that tract of country comprehended in the following boundaries
be, and the same is hereby created into a separate township, by the name of Darby, and is bounded as follows: Beginning
at the northeast corner of Madison County, thence south with Franklin County line, so that a point turning west
will strike Calvin Cary, Sr.'s. lower Corner; thence westwardly to Abraham Johnson's lower corner, on Little Darbv;
thence to Peter Paugh's southeast corner; thence westwardly so as to strike the Champaign County line, two miles
north of William Frankabarger, Sr.'s; thence with said line to Delaware County line; thence with Delaware County
line to the place of beginning." The above territory has been greatly reduced by subsequent creations. Canaan
and Pike Townships were taken from 1)arby, the former of these in the year 1814 and the latter in 1819. Union County,
in the year 1820, was created from the territory of Delaware and Madison Counties, and a strip of land two and
a half miles in width was taken from the northern boundary of Darby Township. Thus it has been reduced in territorial
advantages until it is among the smallest townships in the county.
Big Darby rises in the northeast portion of Champaign County through the northern portion of Union County, passing
through Darby, a portion of Canaan Township, and thence forming the boundary line between Madison and Franklin
Counties. This stream was named by the In from a Wyandot chief by the name of Darby, who for a long time resided
upon it. near the line of this and Union Counties. Sugar Run rises in tJnion County, and flows through the eastern
portion of this township, empties into Big Darby and forms one of its tributaries. In the early settlement of this
county. Big Darby furnished important and indispensable water-power privileges, which were made to subserve and
meet some of the pressing wants of the people, such as grist and saw mills. Prior to these improvements, the nearest
and only mills were at Chillicothe, Ross County. To think of going sixty miles through a dense and unbroken forest,
beset on every side with wild beasts and the prowling and treacherous Indian, ready to take your life and pillage
your goods, required much more of the spirit of adventure and dare than is found in most of us at the present day.
To meet the emergencies under such circumstances, all the families of the first settlers had their "hominy
block," an indispensable article in frontier life, and by them more frequently used than the flouring mills
The soil of this township is diversified. Near the streams it is a red. dish, gravelly loam, very deep, well
adapted to mixed agriculture, such as wheat, rye, oats and corn, as well as root crops. After leaving the stream
on the east, the soil, on the more elevated lands, partakes of a light colored clay, with a small admixture of
gravel, better adapted for grass and grazing purposes. But the greater portion is a black loam, and when once thoroughly
drained, is well calculated to grow any and all of the agricultural products adapted to this climate. The western
portion of this township, or, more properly speaking, the prairie lands, are composed of a deep, black loam, presenting
the appearance of having been composed of vegetable decomposition, upon which, in its native state, grew a wonderful
growth of vegetation, that for years had been decomposed, either in its natve or alkaline state. This latter condition
will be referred to in another part of this work.
All that portion lying east of Big Darby was heavy timber lands, made up of walnut, ash, beech, white and black
oaks, hickory, basswood and white elm on the swampy lands. There were some extensive sugar groves along Sugar Run
and near Big Darby. The principal underbrush was spice-bush, that grew extensively, especially on the flat lands.
All that portion lying west of Big and east of Little Darby, except a narrow strip near these streams, was known
as the Darby Plains; and yet this prairie was dotted here and there with small oak openings, or a narrow, long
line of scrubby burr-oak timber, whose growth had been, and still was, very much impeded by the prairie fires that
burned over this country every returning autumn. The larger portion of all the timber at the present time has come
up and grown to its mammoth proportions since the arrest of these fires. It was a grand sight to see those prairies
on fire, especially at night, when hundreds of acres were surrounded by the destroying element,. whose forked tongs
shot upward above the interspersed oak openings, and its light almost equal to that of a mid-day sun, revealing
the rapid retreat of the deer and other wild animals to some secluded place of safety. The very nature of the vegetation
that grew upon these prairies made the fires formidable and to be dreaded by the first settlers, whose homes and
property were endangered thereby. This whole country was a sea of wild grass and flowering herbs. Upon the lower
portions of the prairies grew a kind of grass that came up in single stalks, very thick at the ground, with a large
round straw, very tough, long, broad blades, and on top a head, somewhat resembling barley. This species grew from
six to eight feet in height, but was of no value for grazing purposes, except when it first came up in the spring.
There were two other varieties that grew upon the more elevated portions of the prairie the "limber-will"
and "ledge-grass." The former of these came up in single stalks, very thick on the ground, with long,
drooping blades and slightly sickle-edged. The latter variety grew in bunches, or tufts, very compact, with fine
blades and center stalks very tall, smooth and round, like rye. These latter varieties were very nutritious, not
only in a green state, but equally so when cut and made into hay. There were some other varieties, but not of sufficient
importance to attract attention.
It would be almost impossible to give a full and accurate description of the flowering portion of its vegetation,
but I will allude to a few, among which was the "prairie dock," with: large, brittle roots, long, broad
leaves, and, every alternate year, large center stalks. It grew to a height of six or eight feet and very branching
near the top, upon each of which was a beautiful yellow blossom. When the stalks were cut near the ground, or the
leaves punctured, a thick, gummy exudation took place, which soon became semi-solid, and was gathered by the young
people for "chewing gum," it being far superior to the manufactured article of the present day. The "wild
sunflower" was a kind of weed that grew with a large, strong stalk, very high, with numerous branches, having
a yellow blossom on each, about three inches in diameter and drooping like the cultivated species.
All of the ponds were surrounded by the wild "blue-flag," and on the top of each center stalk was a large.
blue blossom, very pretty in appear. ance, but its fragrance was of an offensive and sickening character. There
were many other varieties that grew upon the prairies besides those that were found skirting and in the oak openings,
such as the daisies, buttercups, wild pink, coxcombs, lilies and many others equally beautiful. It was indeed a
grand sight to a nature-loving mind to look over these extensive prairie fields and behold them mantled with so
luxuriant a growth of vegetation, and decorated so lavishly with an almost endless variety of flowers, variegated
with all the colors of the rainbow and so blended in beauty that the inmost soul would almost involuntarily praise
God for the grandeur of His omnipotent wisdom and power; but, to that class of persons who cannot appreciate any
loveliness or beauty in the works of nature, it might appear as a God-forsaken wilderness, and not intended as
a home for civilized humanity. It was true that a large portion of these prairie lands were covered with water
a greater part of the year, for what little outlet there was for the surface water, was filtered, as it were, through
this wonderful growth of vegetation. The height and density of the wild grasses that grew upon these prairies,
was that which was calculated to produce a feeling of despondency and desolation to the beholder.
TOPOGRAPHY, WITH PRE-HISTORIC DEDUCTIONS.
There is one peculiar feature in the topography- of these lands, which very much retarded the early-development
and drainage of the prairies. It has only been within the last few years that the fact was demonstrated and generally
understood. The first opinions were, that, as these prairies were situated between the two Darbys, that the drainage
would be of about equal distance to each. But, upon the contrary, the fact is now clearly demonstrated that all
the prairies lying east of Little Darby, with but one or two exceptions, drains to Big Darby. The dip of the country
here is east and southeast. Here, then, was a stubborn obstacle in the way of a complete and thorough drainage,
for no one or two men could afford to cut the necessary long and deep artificial drains to secure such benefits
to the upper lands as were required to make the agricultural pursuits a success. But right here the legislative
enactments of the State came to their relief-that by petition of twelve interested freeholders to the Trustees
of the proper township, an artificial drain could be located, and the cutting of the same awarded to the land-owners
along the line thereof, according to the benefits derived therefrom. Allow me a little digression from my- subject,
for I shall be doing great injustice to, the history of Canaan Township were I to omit the record of the fact that
Eli Perkins, one of its pioneers, drafted the first ditch bill, and through the efforts of her worthy Representative
from Madison County, H. W. Smith, of London, it became a law. Though rude and imperfect at first, the way was opened
by which amendments were made that met all the obstacles in the way of a complete and thorough system of drainage.
This law, with its amendments, has done more for the development of the hidden wealth that was buried in the soil
of Darby Township than any or all other enactments combined. Under the present existing laws, some of the largest
and longest artificial drains of the county have been located and completed under the supervision of skillful engineers.
In the year 1881-82, under one petition, twelve miles of artificial drain were made, at a cost of nearly $7,000.
There are many others constructed under the same law, but this one is specially mentioned to show its practical
workings. Were it not for this practical system of drainage, this portion of the State, as well as many others,
would be almost worthless for agricultural purposes. When all the necessary main drains have been made, and a thorough
system of under drainage instituted, then will these Darby plains be the Eden of the State.
But to return to my subject. The supposed worthlessness of these prairies by the early land speculators, who bought
soldiers' claims and. laid their warrants in the Virginia Military District, is clearly shown by leaving out of
their surveys as much as possible all of the above lands. Another evidence in support of the same conclusion is
evinced by the first settlers making their purchases near or adjacent to the streams, supposing these lands would
ever remain wet, worthless and uninhabitable. But the scientific and demonstrated truth in regard to this part
of the country is, that her altitude is nearly equal to that of any other part of the State; and yet, her reputation
has been but little above sea level. There were two distinct decades in the origin of the burr-oak timber that
was growing here when first discovered by the white man. The first of these are scattering, few in number, and
are found growing upon the highest points of the prairie lands, the limbs of which came out almost at right angles
with the trunk, an evidence of having stood alone, and dating back to the forming periods of all the forests of
this country. The latter are of more recent origin, and date back from two to three hundred years There is considerable
uniformity in the age of each of these decades. Why so many years should elapse between them is a question difficult
of solution; but by a thcrough knowledge of the topography of these prairie lands, a reasonable hypothesis might
be adduced that would remove the obscurity in part at least.
Topographical science has demonstrated beyond all questions of doubt that the Darby plains are table-land. Such
lands are always surrounded with one or more rims of a greater or less elevation, but of sufficient height to hold,
as it were, like a basin, the rainfall or waters from any cause that may flow into it, and there to remain, unless
otherwise dried up by evaporation. Many of the first settlers were greatly deceived as to the most natural and
available points for the drainage of these lands, and, as a result, some very unpleasant law-suits have been prosecuted,
to the detriment of all parties. The error consisted in mistaking the rim that formed the basin for the natural
water-shed between the two Darbys. This latter elevation is quite distinctive, and is easily traced by the timbers
that grow upon either side. Upon the one it is characterized by the kinds of timber that are found near all the
streams, and upon the other by that which is peculiar to the prairie lands. This natural water-shed is generally
found from one-half to one mile east of Little Darby, thus continuing for several miles, but gradually leaving
the stream until it abruptly circles away, connecting itself with one or more of the rims of this table-land. That
these elevations at some prehistoric age of the world has been much more elevated than at present, or that the
prairie depressions have been greater, or both, is very evident from this standpoint. That there was a time, or
pre-historic period, when these lands were covered with water, there can be no doubt. But these elevations have
been slowly worn down by the overflow of water and tread of the buffalo, elk and other wild animals, until some
of the more elevated points of the prairie (or lake) appeared as dry land. This process of reasoning would date
the period when those few and scattering burr oaks first sprang into existence. Hence, the conclusion that, as
this wearing away, and filling up continued, much larger portions were brought to the surface upon which sprang
the second decade, or growth, that was in existence when first discovered by the white man. As this wearing away
and filling up still continued, the whole of these prairies was covered with a heavy coat of vegetation. Thus,
year after year, or centuries it may be, this growth and decay has been going on until the depth of soil is unsurpassed
by any other portion of the State. There is one more conclusive evidence in support of the theory that these prairies
were for a long time submerged in water, for, when the lowest prairies were first broken by the plow, large quantities
of snail and clam shells were turned up, which, however, soon crumbled on exposure to atmosphere.
Considerable time must have elapsed after the second decade or growth of burr-oak timber sprang into existence,
before the North American Indians had penetrated thus far into the interior of this continent, for their practice
was to burn all over the prairie lands every returning autumn, for the purpose of driving the deer and other animals
from their hiding-places: and it is certain that these fires would have destroyed all this growth, as it was afterward
demonstrated that nothing more of a forest kind grew until after the cessation of these prairie fires. Although
thought presents itself, that if the first timbers, almost without an exception, were burr oak, would we not reasonably
expect that when the causes that prevented any young growth, were removed, that the same in kind would start into
existence? But upon the contrary, the greater portion is so entirely different, not only in kind, but also in point
of durability, that we are unable to assign any uncontrovertible or legitimate cause.
Geologically considered, this township differs from many other portions of the county. There are no ores, and
but few limestone ledges, and these are only found near the banks of Big Darby and below the water line; therefore,
they are inexcessible, and of no practical value. Gravel is found in abundance near the streams and of the very
best quality, from which some excellent gravel roads have been made. In nearly all of these gravel beds, some relics
of a pre-historic race, or the North American Indians, have been found, such as human skeletons, stone hammers
or axes, pestles, arrowheads, etc., etc., and in one of these banks there were several skeletons found, lying in
close proximity to each other, and by the side of each was found a piece of yellow ochre as large as a cocoa nut,
supposed to have been placed there under the superstitious idea that it would be required as a war paint in fighting
the battles of the other world, There is one peculiar freak that is comprised in the drift formation of the western
portion of this township, that has quite recently been unearthed. In cutting an artificial drain through the only
prairie lying west of the natural water-shed and east of Little Darby, which is about two miles in length, quite
broad at the upper end, but going down the prairie it is gradually contracted by the elevated lands and the timber
until the latter finally closes in, obliterating the prairie and forming a dense body of timber. In cutting this
drain at that point where the timber came together, and for some distance below, large quantities of white limestone
were found in blocks, scattered here and there, sometimes singly, and at others in close proximity. or lying one
upon another; but, to convey a correct idea, they lay scattered in a promiscuous mass. These blocks were irregular
in shape, but uniformly flat on either side, varying in thickness from three to ten or twelve inches. They were
very soft and easily cut, when first removed, but soon hardened upon exposure. They were found from six inches
under the soil, to as deep as the drain was made. Therefore, the extent of this deposit is not definitely known.
Like many other portions of the county, there are those old, time-worn bowlders. scattered here and there as monuments
or reminders that it was once said. "the fountains of the great deep were broken up." They are not, however.
as numerous here as in many other places, except at a few points on each side of Big Darby and near Sugar Run,
where they have been deposited in considerable numbers.
The subsoil of the township is generally composed of clay and lime.. stone gravel, sufficiently porous to admit
of deep underdraining, and yet at the same time holding in solution, ready for plant food, the application of home
or commercial fertilizers. In conclusion, be it remembered that when all the facts that have been elicited in the
preceding pages are once thoroughly understood and practically applied by the agriculturist, taking into consideration
the altitude, climate, soil and subsoil, may we not safely venture a prediction that, in the near future, these
Darby plains will rank first among the wheat-producing portions of the State?
Darby was among the first townships settled in the county, her history dating back as early as 1795. But those
emigrants were generally poor. Therefore, it was a long time before there was any perceptible improvement, either
in their condition or facilities for making money; but all alike were subjected to the privations incident to pioneer
life. Consequently, justice and courtesy would require that all emigration prior to and including the year 1821
should be chronicled among the list of pioneers. One other important reason for making so much time pioneer years,
is, that in the two succeeding ones, disease and death nearly depopulated this part of the county. The terrible
sufferings and privations experienced by them make it therefore fitting that the names of those noble men and women
should be held in high esteem and cherished in the memories of a grateful people. The first white men to locate
in this township were Jonathan Alder, who was discovered by Benjamin Springer, in 1796, living on the banks of
Big Darby with his Indian wife; James and Joshua Ewing, Samuel and David Mitchell, with their families, and a few
others, whose records will be found in the general history, fo which we refer the reader for further information
of those men.
John, Daniel and Richard Taylor, natives of the State of New York, emigrated to Kentucky in the year 1795, and
purchased lands near Lexington. From an unsettled condition of titles, they became discouraged and disgusted by
constant litigations and losses. The former of these brothers, John Taylor, a young man, became alarmed at the
prospective loss of his farm, went to Mr. Sullivant. of whom he made his purchase, and stated to him the uncertain
condition of his title, whereupon Mr. Sullivant proposed to trade him lands in the Territory (now State) of Ohio
for his Kentucky farm. This Mr. Taylor readily acceded to. By this exchange, he became the owner of about 300 acres
of land on the banks of Big Darby, now in Union County. In the year 1800, this man emigrated to Darby Township,
sold his former purchase to Frederick Sager, and bought another of John Graham. This latter purchase is situated
about one mile south of Plain City, on both sides of Big Darby. Here he erected a log cabin, stable and other necessary
outbuildings, and shortly after, about the year 1804, he married a widow McCollough, sister of Judge Mitchell,
whose early life is recorded in the general county history. From this union they had two children, a daughter and
a son. The former died in infancy, but the latter, John Taylor, Jr., is still living on the old homestead. At this
time the Indians were very numerous, and their camping-grounds were only about one mile up Big Darby from Mr. Taylor's
residence. On one occasion, by some means, they had purchased or stolen a quantity of whisky, and were having a
"general drunk." Always, with such events, the squaws, understanding the savage nature of their liege
lords, would, if possible, secure all their guns, tomahawks and, hunting-knives and hide them to prevent general
disaster and bloodshed. One morning, when Mr. Taylor ascended his loft, to get feed for his horse, he discovered
a great number of tomahawks and hunting-knives sticking in the logs and guns standing in the corners. At this he
was horrified, but he soon, however, learned the nature of this strange stacking of arms. Mr. Taylor was quite
wealthy and was generous withal. Therefore, it served the double purpose of not only making himself and family
comfortable, but also in employing the poor pioneers, and thus assisting them to many of the necessary comforts
In the year 1803, the other brothers emigrated to Darby. They had lost much of their property in the bogus land-titles
of Kentucky; therefore, they were like most of the pioneers, comparatively poor. Daniel, with his family, went
directly to this Indian village, or camping-ground, where at this time Jonathan Alder was living with his squaw
wife, who proposed to surrender to Mr. Taylor the use of his hut as a shelter to his family. This highly distinguished
favor was gladly accepted, and he immediately took possession. He, however, soon after built another by the side
of this one, the former being used for a kitchen and the latter for bed, parlor and sitting room. There the children
of Mr. Taylor and those of the Indians became intimately associated in their plays and childish frivolities. Among
these children there was one little girl by the name of Sarah Taylor, now living, who afterward became the wife
of John H. Norton, of whom we shall have occasion to speak in another place.
The Taylor brothers all settled near Big Darby, and, by industry and economy, they secured a competency that relieved
theni from pressing cares in the evening of their lives. Among their descendants now living here may be mentioned
John Taylor, son of John Taylor, Sr., who was born in 1806, has always been a resident of this township and always
lived at the old homestead. In his early life, he was particularly fond of good horses, and, with a view of improving
this kind of stock, he purchased a few very flue blooded horses, mostly from Kentucky, and were therefore of that
peculiar blood and style of which a Kentuckian boasts. The most of his life, however, has been devoted to the raising
of cattle, sheep and hogs. He wa8 among the first to introduce the Coimbing wools into this township. He is a progressive
farmer, keeping pace with the demands and improvements of the age. Samuel Taylor, son of Richard, lives about one-half
mile east of Plain City, the owner of an excellent farm, extensively engaged in agri cultural pursuits, his farm
being well adapted to the growing of all the cereals of this climate. His attention is also directed in the channel
of stock-raising, and at this time he is the owner of several very fine imported Clydes-dale draft horses, which
compare favorably with the best importation made to this country.
James Norton, with his family, came to this township in the year 1810 or 1812, purchased a farm on Sugar Run, east
of Big Darby, and lived there until his death, in 1836. His two sons, John and Solomon Norton, came with him. The
former of these, in the year 1820, married Miss Sarah Taylor, daughter of Daniel, and one of the little girls mentioned
in the preceding lines as being a playmate with the Indian children in the Wyandot village. Mr. Norton became the
owner of the greater portion of his father's farm, where he spent his days. He was an exemplary man, morally, a
Justice of the Peace, Trustee of the township, Assessor, and some other minor offices were held by him. Re died
in 1880. Solomon Norton lived in this part of the township for several years, but nothing very definite is known
of his history.
Jeremiah Converse was born in New Hampshire in 1760. He emigrated with his father to the State of Vermont prior
to the Revolutionary war. Before the close of this conflict, he enlisted as a private in the cause of freedom.
On one occasion, he, with his company, was sent out as a scouting party to ascertain the strength and position
of a marauding band of Indians. They had traveled many miles along the banks of the Muskingum River, when, toward
evening of the second day, they found themselves confronted by about four hundred savages, secreted behind fallen
timber, trees, underbrush, etc. The deadly fire from the first volley laid half, and more, of their company in
the dust. The surviving ones stood bravely the galling fire from their hidden foe, until the Indian war-whoop and
rush of savages reminded them that their only safety was in retreat. In this desperate struggle for life, Mr. Converse
was pursued by a single warrior, with gun in hand and uplifted tomahawk, ready to inflict the deadly blow. But
being out-distanced by his fleeing foe, the savage halted and shot him through the shoulder. His gun instantly
dropped from his hand thus made powerless, reeling and benumbed by the shock; but he soon rallied and made good
escape by fording the river and secreting himself in the thick underbrush that grew upon the opposite bank. On
the third day, he, with three others, arrived in camp, being all that was left to tell the sad story. His wound
disabled him for life, therefore he was soon after discharged from the military service. Re subsequently became
a traveling minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
In the year 1814, this Revolutionary soldier, and Rhoda Converse, his wife, with their family, emigrated to Darby
Township. He and most of his sons bought homes adjacent to or in near proximity to each other, about three miles
west of Big Darby, upon what was then known as Darby Plains. The Rev. Mr. Converse was the first pioneer minister
in this portion of the county. Therefore, he was generally known and equally esteemed for his uprightness and zeal
for the cause he espoused. He always lived upon the farm of his first purchase, where he also died, in. the year
1837, aged seventyseven. His oldest son, Sanford Converse, settled in Licking County, being grandfather to the
Hon. George L. Converse, of Columbus, Ohio. Those sons of the Rev. Mr. Converse that made purchases and lived on
the Darby Plains were Parley. Squire, Lathrop, Jeremiah, Jr., Silas and Charles Converse.
Parley Converse wa a farmer and mechanic. He was elected to the office of Justice, which he filled with credit
to himself and justice to those he officially dealt with. He was an exhorter in the Methodist Episcopal Church
for forty years or more. After he became unable to labor upon the farm or at his trade, he moved to Plain City,
where he died in 1866. His sons now living are Caleb and Parley, Jr., both residents of Union County. Squire Converse
was a farmer, settled on the plains, and died in one of the sickly seasons. He had three sons. The oldest of these,
Jasper R. Converse, owned a large farm in the prairie lands and was a dealer in stock, but made a specialty in
growing thoroughbred sheep. He died in 1859. His only son living, Augustin Converse, a resident of Columbus, is
very wealthy, a real estate dealer and owning stock in the Wassal Fire Clay Company. Edwin Converse died many years
ago, and his descendants are quite numerous in Union County. Asa Converse was a farmer, which business he followed
for several years. At present, he is a resident of Plain City, and doing an extensive mercantile business. He is
also the owner of a beautiful farm on the plains, upon which his son is now living. Lathrop Converse lived on the
plains until his death, in 1822, one of the sickly seasons. He had three sons. The oldest of these, Darius Converse,
was a resident of the township for many years. Prior to his death, he removed to Union City, Ind. His second son,
Joel N. Converse, was a practicing physician in this and Union Counties. He located in Union City and there became
connected with a railroad enterprise and is now a resident of Lincoln, Neb. Orinda, daughter of Rev. Mr. Converse,
married Samuel Sherwood, who lived in Canaan Township until his death, which took place quite early in the history
of that township. He has one son living-A. H. Sherwood, a resident of Plain City. Here several of the descendants
of this family are living, some of whom are prominent business men of the place.
Jeremiah Converse, Jr., a native of Vermont, and son of the Rev. Mr. Converse, was born in 1790; married Malinda
Derby. a descendant of the titled family of Derbys in England, in 1813. Here was born to them one son. He emigrated
with his and his father's family to Darby Township in 1814. This journey, a distance of nearly one thousand miles,
required eight weeks to accomplish. This was truly a trying and difficult, as well as dangerous, undertaking. But
then a place, a home to call their own, the thoughts of which instilled new life at each returning day. Thus, day
after day, they toiled on to their journey's end. For several years some of these lived to enjoy "home,"
with all its endearments. Others again, in a few brief years, fell victims to disease and death. This man was the
father of a large family, and, like others of his day, suffered many privations incident to pioneer life. He bought
a small farm of Walter Dan, for $1.25 per acre, and even at this price it took him nine years to complete his payments.
He was Drum Major in the militia regiment of this county, under the then existing military laws of the State. He
was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for thirty years or more. His motto was honesty and Christian integrity.
He died in 1849. His oldest son, C. D. Couverse, was born in 1814. Until within a few years, he has always been
a resident of this township. Through industry and economy a competency has been saved to relieve him from the pressing
care of his declining years. He is now the owner of a beautiful farm in Deer Creek Township, upon which he resides.
Jeremiah Converse, better known as Dr. J. Converse, was born in Darby Township in the year 1822 upon the same farm
which he now owns in part. He married Miss Hortense S. Hemenway, a native of Vermont, in 1844; practiced medicine
for twenty-five years, and, with the exeeption of four or five years, has always been a resident of this township.
His complete biography will appear in another part of this work. L. D. Converse, the youngest son, was born in
1826. He is living about two miles from Plain City. His farm is beautifully situated and his surroundings inviting;
the soil is fertile and productive, well adapted to mixed agriculture. The leading business of his life has been
the production of wool. His biography will appear in another place.
Silas Converse was a young man when he emigrated with his father, in 1814. to Darby, with whom he lived for several
years thereafter. Ho married four wives. In his first and second marriage there were no children. His third wife
was a Gorham, by whom he had a son and daughter; the former is a resident of Hardin County, and the latter of Union.
For his fourth wife, he married the widow of Daniel Bowers, who was the mother of John P. and S. W. Bowers, of
this township. From this union there was one son, Sanford Converse, a resident of Plain Ciiy, and doing business
in a livery, feed and sale stable. This pioneer father was not a member of any church, but for veracity, uprightness
and charity, he had no superior. The hungry were fed, the naked clothed, the sick cared for, indeed, the "latch-string
of his door" always hung out. He died at the ripe age of eighty.six years.
Charles Converse, the youngest son of the Rev. Mr. Converse, was quite young when they came to Darby. When but
a child, the effects of inflammatory rheumatism made him a cripple for life, requiring the use of crutches in walking.
Soon after his marriage, he purchased a farm on the plains, which was successfully managed. Stock-raising was his
principal business, the profits of which were carefully husbanded, and at death he had a competency for his family.
He died in 1869. Of his three sons, James N. Converse is a resident of Canaan. R. B. Converse is a resident of
Darby, and living at the home of his childhood, having made some important additions thereto. He is a practical
and successful farmer. His biography will appear elsewhere. Charles Converse, Jr., the youngest son, enlisted in
the war of the rebellion, on the first. call for three months' men; served his time, came home, raised a company
for three years' service, and was elected First Lieutenant, and afterward promoted to Captain of Company D, Fortieth
Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was in several engagements, among them the hard-fought battle of Chickamauga, and was
killed at the battle of Kenesaw Mountain, Ga. which took place June 30, 1864.
Abner Newton, Sr. with his family, emigrated from the State of Vermont to this township in the year 1814, and purchased
a farm in the Converse settlement. He was a wheelwright and chair manufacturer. The demand of the times for that
class of articles made him prominent in this part of the country. His wheels, both great and small, were unsurpassed.
They were a necessary article in almost every family. On these wheels the women span their tow and linen, as well
as the woolen yarns, from which all the clothing was made. He also manufactured hand looms, by which these yarns
were converted into cloth. The clothing for summer wear, for both men and women, consisted of tow and linen, and
for winter, linsey and woolen. The chairs manufactured by him were, perhaps, in less demand and were purchased
as the people became able. The morç common seat used was a long bench, or three-legged stools. Prior to
and after the death of Mr. Newton, his youngest son, Abner Newton, Jr., continued to manufacture the above articles
so long as they were in demand, or until machinery supplied their place. After the demand for these articles had
ceased, he became quits an extensive manufacturer of boots and shoes, and partly in connection with it. or soon
thereafter, he dealt in dry goods, groceries, etc. This traffic was continued for a few years, aud. finally, he
physically broke down and retired from all business. He is still living at the old home, his farm being managed
by his son-in-law.
Albert Newton, the eldest of these sons, married a sister of Dr. Charles McCloud. He settled in the same neighborhood,
and, by industry and frugality, he became quite wealthy. He was an exemplary man, strictly honest, and a zealous
worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which ho was a member for many years. He died as he lived, a firm
believer in the truth of his convictions. His only child, a daughter, married Thomas Jones, f ormerly one of the
Directors of the Plain City Bank, but now a resident of Delaware County.
Daniel Bowers came to this township in the year 1814. He first settled near the present village of Amity, being
a single man at the time of his emigration, but within a few years thereafter he married Diadama Phiney, a young
lady that came with Abel Beach and family in the same year. Mr. Bowers was a millwright and was employed by Frederick
Sager to put up' the building and make all the necessary machinery for a water-power gristmill. This was the first
mill of the kind ever put up in this part of the county. It was situated about one mile north of Plain City, on
Big Darby, which at the time was in this township, but now in Union County. The grinding-stone made use of in this
mill was a bowider taken from the farm of John Taylor, being worked and dressed into proper shape by Mr. Sager
himself. This part of the machinery was used for many years, being almost equal to the French bühr. He was
afterward employed by Uri Beach to build a saw-mill, and soon after a carding-machine. This latter was run by horse-power:
The nature of the tread-power used was truly a novelty. It consisted of a large wheel, perhaps twenty feet in diameter,
with a strong center shaft and iron journals and bearings. Into this shaft strong arms were framed, extending about
ten feet from the center, and well braced underneath, and the whole covered with a tight floor. The wheel was then
set inclined on one side much lower than the other. The horses were harnessed, taken upon the floor and. hitched
to a stationery post or beam; hence the act of pulling revolved the wheel beneath their feet, and. thus the ma
chineny was set in motion. This was a wonderful achievement over the former method of carding all the wool for
their clothing by hand. In. the settlement by the Government of some of the Indian reservations, Mr. Bowers was
employed by the agency as an interpreter, being the only person here that understood the Wyandot language. He therefore
spent considerable time in the settlement of these claims. His trade being insufficient for the support of himself
and family, he purchased. a farm in the Converse settlement, where he lived until his death, in 1834. There were
three children of this family-two Sons and a daughter-the oldest of these, John P. Bowers, is residing at the home
of his youth. He is a man of prominence, and has held many positions of trust in the gift of the people. He has
been elected to the office of Trustee many times at different intervals; also Township Assessor, Real Estate Assessor,
and to the office of Justice of the Peace for twenty-seven years. His educational advantages were very limited,
but a retentive memory and good judgment have given him prominence among the peopie. His biography will appear
in the proper place. S. W. Bowers, the youngest of these sons, owns a farm on the plains, beautifully situated,
rich and fertile. He is industrious and economical, and carefully husbanded his yearly profits. His home is inviting
and tasty, and, but for the ruthless hand of death. his declining years would have been pillowed on the bosom of
happiness and ease.
In the year 1814, Charles Warner moved to the plains and purchased the farm now owned by I. A. Converse. Here Mr.
Warner followed the agricultural pursuits. In connection. with his farming operations he had a distillery, where
he manufactured whisky and peach brandy for the market. The principal trading points were Chillicothe, Sandusky,
Zanesville and a few others of less importance. He usually kept three or four yoke of cat tle, which were used
in. wagoning the products of his still to these points, taking in exchange salt, glass and such other articles
as were in demand. In the spring of the year, with his ox team, he broke large quantities of prairie sod for the
farmers, which was very difficult to plow with an ordinary team. He died quite early in. the history of the township.
There are none of his descendants in this county. Charles Adams, a step-son of Mr. Warner, accompanied him to this
county and purchased a farm adjoining, where he lived until about the year 1836. He then moved to Union County,
where he died. His descendants are residents of that county. In the year 1810, David Clement emigrated to this
township and purchased a farm on the plains. He made the agricultural pursuits the means of supporting himself
and family, and was the first to introduce the propriety of sowing down the cultivated fields in tame grass. He
therefore procured a small quantity of red-top seed, which was sown on a piece of corn land. Its luxuriant growth
and beautiful appearance was the wonder and admiration of the farming community. The oldest son living is a resident
of Columbuss Ohio.
In the year 1814, Charles MoCloud, Sr., emigrated to Darby Township and bought a farm on the plains, lying adjacent
to the post road. Here he supported his family from the products of his farm. His farm products were of a mixed
character. Like others, however, the grazing of cattle was found to be the more remunerative; therefore, in the
latter part of his life, this was made a specialty. After the death of his wife, he sold his home, and lived the
balance of his days with his children. He died at his son-inlaw's in 1844. He was the father of two sons. The oldest
of these, Curtis McCloud, married and lived on a small farm in the Converse settlement until his death. His oldest
son is the present John O. McCloud, Esq., of London.
Charles McCloud, the youngest of these sons, lived and worked on the farm of his father until of age, at which
time his inclination and desire for a profession induced him to select the science of medicine as being the most
congenial to his nature. To accomplish this object, he went to Granville and studied medicine under a physician
of that plaee, Dr. Alpheus Bigelow. After completing his studies, he returned and settled in Amity, and for many
years, by close application and undivided attention, he was not only a successful physician, but a shining ornament
to the profession. His skill in the treatment of diseases gave him notoriety and an extended field of usefulness.
But, like many others in a new country like this, with almost impassable roads at times, he became weary of the
hardships incident to the profession; therefore, he longed for a more retired and less responsible life. To accomplish
this, he, in company with Wesley Carpenter, purchased quite an extensive tract of land below Amity, with a view
of making stockraising and farming a specialty; but, by a few years' experience in this new enterprise, he was
convinced of the fact that bone and muscle, especially in those days. were among the essential features of success.
He therefore sold his interest in the farm to Mr. Carpenter, and immediately purchased a large stock of dry goods
and groceries, and entered into business at Amity. Here he remained until after that place was visited by the Asiatic
cholera. Some of his own family were among those that were victims of this terrible epidemic. He subsequently sold
his property and purchased in Plain City, where he engaged largely in the mercantile trade. In 1844, he was elected
member of the Ohio State Legislature, which position he filled creditably to himself and satisfactorily to his
constituents. He was a prominent politician, and more or less engaged in discussing the political issues of the
day. In the great political contest of 1840, Dr. McCloud was the prominent politician of the county. His position
and activity during this campaign gave him eminence as a political speaker. The renown won during this and subsequent
campaigns so favorably impressed the minds of the people in his behalf that, when the call was made for a new constitution.
by an overwhelming majority Dr. McCloud was the people's choice as a member of the Constitutional Convention of
Ohio. He never played the part of a drone in the high political positions conferred upon him by the people, but
was ever watchful in guarding the interests and liberties of his constituents. But alas! the stern decree, "Dust
thou art!" Ah, death! thou didst mark him as thy victim; and in the midst of a life of usefulness and honor,
he was called to bid adieu to earth. Many were the sorrowing hearts when it was announced, "Dr. Charles McCloud
is dead." He died at his home in Plain City, in the year 1860. His widow is yet living, and a resident of
that place. There were two sons-the eldest, B. C. McCloud, a resident of Plain City, and an active business man
of that place. In the year 1874, he was elected a member of the State Legislature, and is an active worker in the
political party to which be belongs. His business occupation is that of a druggist, and among the oldest establishments
of Plain City. The youngest, Newton McCloud, is a resident of Marysville, Union County. He also is largely engaged
in the drug trade, and these establishments are owned in copartnership by the brothers.
Very early in the settlement of the country, Titus Dort came to Darby Township and purenased a farm about one mile
south of Plain City, devoting a part of his time to the agricultural pursuits. But, as he was a blacksmith by trade,
the most of his time for many years was spent in the latter business, it being a very important trade at this time,
as the people were dependent upon the common blacksmith for most of their farm implements, such as trace-chains,
hoes, axes, plows, and many other necessary and indispensable articles. Many of these farm implements were truly
cumbersome, but they supplied a link in the chain of necessity. Late in life, Mr. Dort moved to Frankfort, Union
County, where he died many years ago. A few of his descendants are living in the latter county.
In the year 1818, Samuel Smith, with a large family, came from the State of Vermont to Ohio, and settled in this
township. He purchased a large tract of land, containing about six hundred acres. Mr. Smith (but more familiarly
known by the name of Elder Smith, being a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church), being quite advanced in-life,
intrusted the management of the farm to his sons, devoting his time the lighter work and the ministry of the Gospel.
He, with many others, kept quite a number of Cows, for the purpose of raising cattle, and also for the profits
arising from butter and cheese. The Elder built the first brick house on the plains, which is still occupied, and
in good condition. The roof of this house was made of pine shingles, purchased in Cincinnati, from the dairy products,
and. wagoned through an almost trackless wilderness, requiring two weeks or more to make the round trip.
James and John Smith, two of his sons, finally became the owners of the old homestead, and dealt quite extensively
in cattle, giving their time and attention to their herds. They were among the first in this part of the county
to introduce blooded stock, with a view to the improvement of the native cattle of the West. To more perfectly
facilitate this improvement, an importing company was organized in this and Union Counties by taking shares therein.
The money so raised was expended in the purchase of cattle from the best herds in Europe. This enterprise was not
only profitable to the stockholders, but produced a wonderful revolution in the minds of the people as to the comparative
value of the different grades of cattle. The large numbers of bovines that may be seen grazing on the prairies,
with their fine proportions, is due to the efforts of this class of men. These men continued in the cattle business
for many years, but finally John sold his farm and removed to Urbana, Champaign Co., Ohio, where he died a few
years since. James also went to Urbana at the same time, but, not selling hi8 farm on the plains, he soon returned,
where, in company with his son, they are still engaged in the cattle business, and are now residents of Union County.
There were three other sons of Elder Smith. Baily and Samuel, Jr., lived here for a few years, and then moved to
Franklin and Licking Counties, Richard, the youngest of these brothers, through industry and economy in his younger
days, became the owner of a good farm on the plains, but, by the dire effects of disease, that incapacitated him
for the active duties of life, he gave his property into the hands of his children, with whom he lived until his
Simeon Hager was born in 1766; emigrated to Ohio and settled in this township in 1814. He soon thereafter purchased
a farm near Plain City. His occupation was that of farming. He was highly respected for his Christian integrity
and uprightness, a peaceable, quiet and inoffensive man. He died at his home in 1843. Those of his sons that were
residents in the State were Simeon. Hager, Jr., a surveyor by profession, who lived and died in Plain City; Baldwin
Hager was a resident of Union County at his death; Braynard is now a resident of Woods County. Aurelius Hager,
the youngest sen, was the owner of a portion of the old homestead. Thi8 property quite recently was surveyed into
lots, and is embraced in Hager & Lombard's Addition. to Plain City. He is a carpenter by trade, and highly
esteemed for his uprightness. He was a soldier in the war of the rebellion.
In the year 1817, Isaac Bigelow came to this part of Ohio and purchased a tract of land, a portion of which embraces
the territory in part now comprising the town of Plain City. This purchase was made with a view of making it a
stock farm; but the tide of emigration seemed to be in the direction of Central Ohio. The principal trading points
then were Zauesville. Chillicothe, Cincinnati and Sandusky. There were, however, a few other smaller and less important
places of trade. From the cities above mentioned the early settlers purchased their salt, glass, nails, as well
as many other necessary articles for the family. For the future convenience and development of this part of the
county, Mr. Bigelow conceived the idea of laying out a town, to meet the demands and wants of the people. Accordingly,
in the year 1818, the original town was laid out; but a more minute description will be given in the proper place.
Mr. Bigelow, being a physician by profession, made the practice of medicine a specialty for many years, He, however,
retired from the active business affairs of life, and lived many years in the enjoyment of home in his newly laid
Dr. Daniel Bigelow, a brother to Isaac, came here in the year 1831. His whole life was spent in the active labors
of a practicing physician. He was ever ready to attend all calls in his profession, and his greatest delight was
embodied in his efforts to mitigate the sufferings of his fellow-creatures, or cheer them as they approached the
dark valley to the tomb. He was sociable, pleasing and winning in his manner; his presence in the sick-room dispersed
the gloom of his patients: and in a word, cheerfulness was traceable in every lineament of his features. His office
and residence were on his farm. In his death, not only his family relatives suffered a bereavement, but the community
in which he lived felt deeply their loss.
Israel Bigelow, the father of Isaac and Daniel, came here in 1828, and purchased prope rty in Plain City. He also
was a physician, and for several years practiced medicine in Plain City and its surroundings. Though advanced in
life, he was ever willing to visit the sick and render professional aid. He died in Plain City in 1838. I. E. Bigelow,
the only one living here, was the son of Dr. Daniel Bigelow. He is the owner in part of the homestead of his youth.
Farming has been his principal occupation. At one time. htwever, in connection with it, he was engaged in the mercantile
business in Plain City. His biography will appear in the proper place.
Eber McDowell came to this township in the year 1818, and purchased a farm about two miles west of the Converse
settlement. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. The regiment to which he belonged was ordered to reenforce the
troops at Plattsburg, hut arrived too late to participate in the bloody contest. At the battle of Lake Erie, his
regiment. with others, was guarding the approach and landing of the British forces on the American shore, where
he witnessed on the lake the hard-fought battle of Commodore Perry's victory. He was full of the patriotic spirit
of '76. and when the Southern rebellion broke out, as old as he was, he was anxious to shoulder the musket and
march to the battle-field in defense of the stars and stripes. With others, he experienced much of the hard times
incident to the early settlers. Though the price of land was seemingly very low, yet all the farm products were
correspondingly reduced; and, in order to make the last payment for his home, he sold and delivered 200 bushels
of corn to Mr. Wright, of Dublin, Franklin Coanty, for 10 cents per bushel. This delivery was made by wagoning,
with a heavy pair of cattle, a distance of fifteen miles, requiring two days to make a round trip. These cattle
were also sold to the same party for $27. The money thus obtained enabled him to procure a deed for the farm on
which he spent his days. He died at the advanced age of ninety-six years. Samuel McDowell, the only child living,
became the owner of the home of his youth, and was a resident of this township for fifty years or more. He made
farming a success. In the decline of life, he retired from active business, sold his farm, and is now a resident
of the city of Columbus, owning stock in the Wassal Fire Clay Company of that city. There are a few of the descendants
of this family residents of Plain City. The most, if not all, are the children and grandchildren of T. L. McDowell,
the most of whose life was spent in this township. He was a mechanic, devoting his time to his trade. .and for
many years a resident of Plain City.
Amos Beach emigrated from Vermont to this township in 1814. He was the owner of a small farm on the plains, where
he lived and successfully managed until about the year 1830. Selling his property here, he purchased land in Jerome
Township, Union County. He laid out the town of Pleasant Hill, but afterward called Frankfort. Here he lived for
many years, or until after the death of his wife, He then became a resident of Plain City, where he died a few
In the year 1810, Abner and David Chapman, two brothers, came to this township. The former of these purchased a
farm near Plain City, where he resided for a few years. Being a man of good education, a portion of his time for
several years was devoted to school-teaching. He, however, sold this farm and purchased another on the banks of
Big Darby. In the creation of Union County in 1820. he was included in the territory of said county. David Chapman,
a young man of good education, and a surveyor by profession, taught school, and did a large amount of surveying
for Walter Dun, of Virginia. At this time, there were pieces or parcels of land that had been unentered by former
speculators. Many of these were now entered and patented by Mr. Chapman He subsequently married a daughter of Joshua
Ewing, and for several years thereafter lived at his farm on the plains. He, however, moved to Union County, and
from thence to the State of Iowa.
William McCune, a step-son of Andrew Noteman, came with the latter in 1803, who settled on the east bank of Big
Darby, immediately opposite to the Indian village or camping-grounds above referred to. Mr. Noteman lived here
for many years. In the creation of Union County, he was included in its territory. But the step-son above referred
to commenced early' in life to support himself. At the age of twelve years, he went to Franklinton -to learn the
blacksmith's trade. Here he remained for some time. and assisted in forging the nails that were used in. building
the old State House at Columbus. The clay for the first bricks made here was taken from the mound near what is
now Mound street, Columbus. Mr. McOune afterward went to Buck Creek and learned the tanning business, and, after
completing his trade,.he came back, purchased and moved on a farm near Plain City. Mr. McCune's tannery was one
among the first in this part of the county. Here was a want kindly appreciated by the people, and his thorough
knowledge of the business, in connection with his honesty, won for him a large proportion of the custom of the
county. A few years prior to his death, he became entirely blind. His home was cut off from Darby in 1820.
Richard Morgridge, with his family, emigrated from the State of Connecticut to Licking-County, Ohio, in the year
1816. Here he was compelled to remain, in- consequence of sickness in his family. He was a man of some property.
He emigrated with a good pair of horses and wagon, and with him he brought a large box of Yankee clocks, being
purchased very cheap in his native State, but were here sold at great profit. All this property was soon converted
into cash; but, being on many different bank issues, he went to Marietta, and there exchanged it for the Muskingum
Valley Bank notes of that place. Within a very short time thereafter, this banking house broke and closed business,
being entirely insolvent. Consequently, his property was gone and he made penniless. Here he remained for three
years, but the sickness of his family incurred expenses that he was unable to meet. In 1819, he purchased a yoke
of oxen, and with them moved his family to this township. He contracted with Walter Dun for a farm of 130 acres,
about one mile west of the Converse settlement. The debts incurred in Licking County were still hanging over him,
and his creditors came and attached all his chattel property; hut, this being insufficient to satisfy the claims,
his body also was taken by the Sheriff, t) be lodged in the county jail for debt. But, before leaving home with
the officer, his wife placed in his hands all the money in their possession, being $1.30. After they had proceeded
some distance, it occurred to Mr. Morgridge that the law required the creditor to support the debtor while in jail,
if he had no means of supporting himself. Therefore, he made an excuse to stop by the roadside. where he secretly
placed his money under a rail in the fence, near a large tree. After their arrival at London, a search was instituted,
and he was found without any means of supporting himself. The creditor was then required to give bonds for the
maintenance of the prisoner while in jail, and this he refused to do, whereupon Mr. Morgridge was set free. Richard
Morgridge never completed the payments for his farm, but, after his death, the family met those obligations. In
this family there were nine children, all of whom are dead but three. The oldest of those living is J. Bailey Morgridge,
now living at the old homestead. He was born in Connecticut in 1814. His educational advantages were very limited,
having never studied grammar or geography in the schoolroom. His education, which is by no means limit- ed, was
obtained by a diligent application of his time at home. His comprehensive knowledge of the different branches of
education secured for him the position of teacher in many of the subdistricts in this part of Madison County. The
winter months were devoted to teaching, and the summer to farming. This was continued for many years, making the
wholetime spent in teaching equal to three and a fourth years.
There were others whose descendants have long since emigrated to remote or unknown parts, and among those were
Marquis, Petty, Nickels, Frazell, and perhaps some others that were among the pioneers of Darby. The emigration
to this part of the county from 1812 to 1820 was truly wonderful, as' is evident from the preceding history. The
larger portion of emigrants were from the New England States, the soil of which was so inferior to that of this
county that the latter became proverbial for its fertility and productiveness. Prior to 1822, the prospective outlook
for a rapid and early development of her resources was truly flattering; but alas! all those bright anticipations
in 1822 and 1823 were followed by an impenetrable cloud of gloom, draped with disease and death that threatened
depopulation, a description of which will be found in the general history of the county. The shock thus produced
was severely felt all over the county, but more especiaLly in Darby and Canaan Townships. There was no more emigration
until 1830 and 1832. The only occupants from 1823 to 1830 were the survivors of those two sickly seasons, and even
somi of these returned to their native States or settled elsewhere. A large per cent of the present inhabitants
of Darby Township are descendants of these pioneer families.
A few of the leading early settlers will receive a passing notice. E. W. Barlow, Sr., was a soldier in the war
of 1812, and Major of a regiment of militia volunteers. He was ordered to New Orleans, and was in the battle fought
there by Gen. Jackson. Maj. Barlow came to this township in 1830 and purchased a farm on Sugar Run, where he lived
for many years. He subsequently came to Plain City, and here died. In the year 1828, Jesse Lombard, with a large
family, came from Kentucky to this township. His farm purchase was made on the plains, where he followed dairying
and stock-raising for many years. In the decline of life, he sold this farm and moved to Plain City, where he died
in 1875. Farmery Hemenway, a native of the Green Mountain State, emigrated with his large family to Darby in 1830.
His farm was situated about two miles southwest of Plain City. He was the most extensive dairyman on the prairies,
shipping the products to Columbus and other markets. He was for many years a Justice of the Peace, a man of untarnished
character and sterling worth; He subsequently became a resident of Union County, where he died in 1872. The most
of this large family are dead. The only one living in this township is the wife of Dr. J. Converse.
EARLY STOCK SPECULATORS.
In the early history of the township, as well as that of the county, there were but few of this class of men,
and those few supplied a want very much needed and appreciated by the first settlers. To raise cattle and hogs'
was not very difficult or expensive; but the difficulty consisted in getting them to market. There were but few
marketable points within reach of the settlements, and the demands at these were in limited numbers only. The Government
Agencies at Sandusky and Detroit were ready purchasers for a small amount of this class of farm products. Subsequently,
however, in the latter place, Canadian speculators purchased largely of cattle and hogs that were packed for the
English markets. In addition to these places, Cincinnati, Chillicothe and Cleveland did a small amount of this
kind of business. Here, then, were the points of trade; but to reach them was a difficult task. All this stock
must necessarily be driven on foot a distance of from 100 to 200 miles, with such surroundings as are peculiar
to a new country like this.
Butler Comstock, of Worthington, was among the first extensive cattle speculators in this township. His purchases
were usually made in the spring, comprising one hundred or more four-year-old steers, for which-he paid from $4
to $7 per head. These cattle were herded and grazed upon the prairies until early autumn, and then driven to some
of the above markets-Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. Mr. Comstock continued this business for several years, with profit
to himself and those of whom he purchased.
In the year 1818, a young man by the name of James Guy came from Canada to this township. Others of the family
came at about the same time. James possessed fine business qualifications, and at once entered into the cattle
trade -limited, however, at first; but, as his means increased, his purchases were correspOndingly greater. The
points of trade sought by him were in keeping with the kind and condition of his stock. His fat cattle, in the
infancy of his speculations, were driven to Sandusky or Detroit, but his stock cattle were taken to the neighborhood
of Chillicothe and sold to feeders along the Scioto bottoms. This method of doing business was too circumscribed
to meet his enlarged views and speculative usefulness. This increased trade upon his part was in keeping with the
increased supply, for, by this time, the people had learned that stock-raising was the most profitable, if not
the only industry that brought the ready cash. From 1830 to 1840, the price current for a four-year-old steer was
from $7 to $10 per head. Mr. Guy in his traffic was not confined to this township or county; he therefore purchased
large droves of cattle that were driven on foot over the Alleghany Mountains to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Sometimes
his droves assumed mammoth proportions, numbering from 300 to 500 head. He followed this business for nearly twenty
years. At one time he was the owner of 1,500 acres of the finest grazing lands on the plains. In 1846, his speculative
mind was turned to a new field of action. He, in company with David Mitchell, son of Judge Mitchell, entered largely
into the pork-packing business at Columbus. Many thousand head were slaughtered, for which they paid from $5 to
$6 per hundred; but before this great bulk of pork was put upon the market, there came the great financial crash
of 1847, like a sweeping tornado, carrying with it some of the best business firms and men of the county. Mr. Guy
was therefore wrecked upon the sand-bar of finance, and to him, like others with such extensive ideas of speculations,
disaster was an almost natural result. He lost all, and made an assignment to his creditors; but he was not the
man to sit down and brood over the disasters of the past, for, when the California gold fever swept over this continent,
he wont with an overland emigrant train to "Ophir," to gather the precious metal of that land. Here he
remained four years, and came back with $5,000 of the shining dust, with which he purchased a farm, partly in this
and Union Counties, where he lived until his death, in 1882.
James Boyd came to Canaan Township in 1829, and purchased a farm on the plains, where he lived until his death,
in 1831. There were three sons, the oldest a resident of London, this county; James Boyd, Jr., is a resident of
this township, and the owner of a fine farm near Plain City. His occupation is farming of a mixed character, but
devoting special attention to fine cattle and hogs. His life has been identified in the agricultural pursuits,
and his surroundings are indicative of thrift and prosperity. As the lines of railroads extended westward, many
of the old stock speculators and drovers retired from business, and new ones stepped to the front. Daniel Boyd,
of this township, was the first to engage in this new mode of transportation. His early business training was among
the cattle herds of Darby. Accordingly, in 1855, his first shipments were made to the Eastern markets. Being young
and inexperienced, there were many things to be learned that were important and essential to success. In a few
years of experience, he abandoned in part the shipment of cattle; but for the last fifteen or twenty years, his
shipments have been confined to hogs, sheep and wool. He has been engaged in this business for twenty-seven successive
years, and in this particular is the oldest shipper in the county. During this period, the value of his shipments
have been from $150,000 to $300,000 per year. He lives in a finely located suburban residence of Plain City.
This is the only village in the township, and was laid out by Isaac Bigelow in 1818. Accordingly, we find the
following record: July 8, 1818.-The plan of Westminster, situated on the south side of Big Darby Creek. in Darby
Township, Madison County, on the road leading from Worthington to Urbana. The above road, which is Main street
from letter B, runs east, and is sixty feet wide; the alleys are thirty links wide, and run from Main street north.
The lots on the north side of Main street. measure each, north, twelve poles, and east, four poles and eleven links.
The lots on the south side of Main street, measure each, south, ten poles, and west, five poles and one link.
DAVID CHAPMAN Surveyor.
JUNE 11, 1818.
There were no other official acts until 1823. At this date, we find that the previous survey was resurveyed and
additional territory incorporated, as well as the original name changed from Westminster to Pleasant Valley. We
also find that, from 1823 to 1851, the original proprietor made six additions to this village, besides additions
subsequently made by the following parties: Barlow's, Sherwood's First and Second, Amonn's First and Second, Marshal's,
Hager & Lombard's, Black & Mooney's. and I. E. Bigelow's Additions. Its name was again changed from Pleasant
Valley to that of Plain City.
This town is situated in the northeast portion of the township, and is bounded on the north by Union County. For
a time it was superseded by Amity, in Canaan Township, but the advantages of the former were mainly due to location,
being situated on the post road, an important west-bound thoroughfare, over which much of the emigrant travel passed.
This, in connection with natural advantages, rendered it much more desirable as a business location. From 1818
to 1850, her growth and business development were characteristic of doubt and uncertainty as to her future prospects
among those of her rivals. But at the latter date, the location of a trunk-line railroad through her borders removed
all uncertainty, and the impetus thus given to her growth, business and manufacturing developments were truly flattering.
The first hotel was kept by Clark Provine, in a log building located on the same lot as the present National Hotel.
It was surrounded with underbrush, hazel and plum thickets; but as the weary traveler neared the spot, he read
with delight the invitation in glowing letters over the door, "Traveler's Inn." The principal guests
were travelers, emigrants, speculators, hunters and trappers. The first dry goods and grocery store was that of
the proprietor of the town, Isaac Bigelow. The first blacksmith was James Goldsberry. The first church was a small
brick building belonging to the Methodist Episcopal denomination. The first schoolhouse was a log hut on Lot No.
14, and a Miss Suzan Fudger taught the first school. Here is a miniature pen picture of Plain City of the present,
over which half a century and more has passed. She stands to-day dressed in. beautiful mansions, extensive business
blocks, magnificent halls, manuf acturing establishments, banking houses, a large school building, fine church
edifices, besides many other structures less imposing, but indicative of thrift and prosperity. If to this be added
the productive wealth of the surrounding country, with an easy access to her markets, and a direct communication
by rail to Eastern cities, she has a bright prospective future. The business establishments foot up twenty in the
mercantile trade, ten manufacturers, two banking houses, two hotels, one printing office and a.weekly newspaper,
besides the transient and unsettled traffic common to all commercial towns. Her population in 1880 was about 1,000.
The first Christian society was organized by the Methodist Episcopal Church about the year 1812 Its first church
building was made of hewn logs, closely notched at the ends, and. from its resemblance to the primitive block-house
used in frontier life, it was called the Block Church. Its location was about one-half mile south of Plain City,
near the present cemetery. For many years this was a flourishing society, but subsequently it united with a receut
organization of the same order, and built the first church in this place in 1840.
Converse Chapel.- This was a Methodist society and organized in 1816. For many years, the only place of worship
was the Converse Schoolhouse of that neighborhood. This society subsequently became the most flourishing organization
in the township. In 1840, it erected the largest church edifice in this part of the county. For about thirty-five
years, this commodious building was used as a place of worship. There are those yet living who, with heartfelt
emotions, can point to the once graceful but now dilapidated edifice and say, "Yonder stands my Christian
Alma Mater." About the year 1875, this society was united with that of Plain City.
PLAIN CITY CHURCHES.
The Methodist Episcopal Church numbers about one hundred and sixty, and is in a flourishing and prosperous condition.
Its Sabbath school organization is largely attended, and is instructive and attractive. The church edifice. situated
on North Chillicothe street, is a recent superstructure, presents a fine appearance, large and commodious, with
many of the most approved modern improvements. Its parsonage, standing upon the same lot, is really a mansion in
appearance, beautiful and convenient withal.
Presbyterian Church.- This society numbers about one hundred and thirty. The most of its members are residents
of Union County, and was organized here in 1850. The condition of this society is that of prosperity. The Sabbath
school is interesting and well attended. The church edifice is situated on East Main street, a brick structure,
graceful in appearance, and commodious and convenient. -
Universalist Church. -This society was organized in 1850. Its membership is about one hundred and twenty. Its condition
is prosperous, and has in connection an interesting and well-attended Sabbath school. The church is situated on
South Chillicothe street. Having been built for several years, it therefore fails in some of the more modern improvements.
Catholic Church.- The membership of this faith is quite numerous. Like others of a similar belief, they are gathered
in for many miles. Those that have been baptized into this faith are members of that society most easy of access.
They have no church, but a former private residence has been fitted up for a temporary place in which to hold services.
The Catholic population is steadily growing, and doubtless in a few years will be sufficiently strong to erect
a new edifice.
Baptist Church.- The society here is in its infancy, therefore its membership is rather limited. It has regular
pulpit services, but no Sabbath schooL Its church edifice is a rented one, belonging to the United Brethren, a
society once in a flourishing condition.
I O. O. F., NO. 193.
This order was first organized in 1850. It has a membership of about eighty. Their condition is that of prosperity.
They occupy a hall in the third story of the McCune Block.
URANIA, MASONS, NO. 311.
The Masonic Order here was chartered in 1859. It has a membership of from sixty-five to seventy. They occupy
a hail in the third story of the McCune Block, and are prosperous and happy.
This was a secret society, and to Plain City is due the honor of its birthplace. It was organized in 1848. It
had for its object the universal elevation of the morals of humanity, as well as refined literary attainments.
They also encouraged the acquisition of knowledge relating to Mound-Build.. ers. This society only existed for
about ten years.
Plain City Cemetery is situated on South Chiflicothe street and west bank of Big Darby, about one-half mile
from the city. This is the oldest cemetery in the township. It is not known who, or the exact date of the first
interment, but at least it was as early as 1810. The land embraced in the old part, of this cemetery was donated
by Titus Dort in 1812. An additional purchase was Bubsequently made, and others must soon follow. In this cemetery
is located the township vault, built according to the most improved patterns. Many of the monuments are grand in
Smith Cemetery.- This cemetery is situated on Darby Plains, about four miles southwest of Plain City. It was thus
named from its first having been used as a family burying-ground, but many other interments were made, therefore
it was subsequently deeded to the Trustees of the township, who have taken it in charge. In 1818, the first interment
was that of a child by the name of Andrews, a relative of this family of Smiths. There are some costly monuments,
artistic and beautiful in desigm
Bigelow Cemetery.-This is strictly a family burying-ground. it is situated on East Main street, on the south bank
of Big Darby, just outside the incorporated limits of Plain City. Polly Bigelow. wife of the Rev. Isaac Bigelow,
who came to Darby in 1812, was the first person buried in this family cemetery, in the year 1818. The most of this
once numerous family lie here, in obedience to the stern decree, "Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt
The following are the names of those who enlisted from this township during the war of the rebellion: Albert
W. Allen, George Allen, Benjamin Allen, Frank Allen, William F. Bancroft, Clark L. Barlow, George W. Becels, Patterson
Bradley, Benjamin Beach, Levi Berkstresser, James Black, Jonathan Bigelow, Emmit Bigelow, Marshall Beach, Marova
F. Beach, Samuel Beard, Lawson Bidwell. Titus Case, Silas G. Chapman, Silas W. Chapman, Hiram K. Converse, Albert
N. Converse, Charles Converse, First Lie-ut. George W. Darety, George W. Flaherty, Wilkinson Guy, Capt. Thomas
J. Haynes, Daniel B. Hager. Lysander G. Huft Richard D. Haynes, Levi E. Hager, Aurelius Hager, Edward Hemenway,
William Harrington, Andrew J. James, William N. Kite, Jesse Lombard, Rodney C. McCloud, Leander Merce , Uriah H.
McDowell, James L. Mills, George Miller, John Marshall, Gustavus A. McDowell, Andrew C. McDowell, Russel B. O'Hara,
John F. Perry. Robert Patterson. John Patterson. Joel Pennington, Alanson Sesler, James Shumway, Reuben M. Surfus,
Samuel M. Stamp, Lewellyn Shumway, Harry Scribner, Daniel H. Thomas, Daniel Traèy, Eliphus Tarpenning, William
Taylor, Daniel Taylor Warren C. Winget, Frederick J. Wadsworth, John Williams, Joel H. Worthington, Samuel O. Weatherington,
Wilson Weatherington, Harvy Winget.