History of Twain Township, Darke County Ohio
From: History of Darke County, Ohio
From its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time
By: Frazer E. Wilson
The Hibart Publishing Company
Milford, Ohio 1914


This township was erected in July, 1817, and contained all of the county south of a line running due east from the northwest corner of section 31, township 11 north, range 2 east. A tier of sections was taken from the northern part upon the creation of the townships of German, Neave and Van Buren. Harrison, Butler and Monroe were successively detached as elsewhere mentioned, leaving Butler as now constituted, it being identical with the civil division known as township 8 north, range 3 east, containing thirty sections.

This township was named from Twin creek which drains much of the southern portion of the township as originally constituted. The northern part is drained by the upper waters of Painter creek and the, eastern section by the head waters of Ludlow creek. The eastern part is quite level, and, in early days was covered with water for considerable periods each year. This condition was quite discouraging to early settlers but after extensive and successful drainage, the land became very productive, the soil being rich, deep vegetable loam, enriched by ages of rank vegetable growths which had been sustained in the vast molasses of by gone ages. Along Miller's fork the land is more rolling and elevated, yet very productive. As formerly stated a distinct glacial moraine, or moraine belt, is traceable through the southwestern part of this township, skirting the valley of Miller's fork and following that stream into Preble county below Ithaca. An old Indian trail, apparently followed this elevated belt and it is said by some authority that Wayne's army took this elevated route in preference to that of St. Clair. The road from Ithaca to Fort Jefferson and Greenville follows this old trail and is one of the early highways of the county. As before mentioned, Elliott and Stoner were both slain along this trail, during the war of 1812. The body of Stoner is buried in the cemetery at Ithaca.

Jacob North is said to have been the pioneer of Twin township. He came from Lewisburg and settled on Miller's fork, probably about 1812, but was alarmed at the killing of Elliott and Stoner and the warning of a half breed friend and returned to his old home.

William Robbins was probably the first permanent settler. He came in 1815 and settled just west of Ithaca. He was followed in 1816 by David Lucas, William and Eli Curtner, Frederick Shank and son Philip, David Shearer, James McDole, Philip Rutter, David Baumgardner, Isaac, Thomas and George Walker. Several of these were from the Stillwater settlement, which had been formed largely of people from North Carolina about 1800. In the spring of 1817, Frazee Doty, a local minister and prominent citizen settled just west of Ithaca, and in the fall of that year Andrew Burkett came. Among other early settlers were Michael Bickett, Emery Rogers, William Lemon, Adam Briney and Philip Rader.

The first school house was built in 1822 or 1823 in the northeast corner of section 19. There are now nine schools in this township, besides that at Arcanum.

The first church, which was of the Christian denomination was erected in the northwest quarter of section 6, near the northwest corner of the township. This denomination also erected another church one mile south of Arcanum. Both of these disbanded at an early date. Abraham Sneethen and Levi Purviance were the early representatives of this sect, and the pioneer preachers in the township. John Williams was also an early preacher. The United Brethren built a church in Ithaca about 1830, which was the second erected in the township. All the churches of this township are now located in the villages as elsewhere mentioned.

On account of the fertility and value of the land the farms of this township have been divided into comparatively small tracts. Much tobacco is raised in the eastern portion and small tracts of land in the neighborhood of Arcanum have sold as high as $300 per acre.

There are three villages in this township: Ithaca, Arcanum and Gordon.

Ithaca.

This village was platted by John Colville in 1832, and given the name of Twinsborough. Being in the center of the early settled district and on an old highway, it early became an important trading center. It now has United Brethren, Baptist and Lutheran churches, a school, town hall and hotel, besides Odd Fellows, Junior Order and Red Men lodges, and is located on the Ohio Electric railway. The 1910 census showed a population of 100. Its growth has been retarded in recent years by the building of the D. and U. railway to the east and the location of Gordon and Arcanum on that line.

Gordon.

This place was platted in 1849, and named for one of the pioneers. It is located upon the D. & U. and Ohio Electric railways in the midst of a rich farming country and has been especially known for its large lumber businelss conducted successfully for years by Ezra Post and its elevator and tobacco warehouses owned and operated by Edward Ammon. Besides its stores and the above mentioned enterprises this village has a Baptist and an M. E. church. The population in 1910 was given at 181.

Arcanum.

The largest and most important village in Twin township and the entire southern part of Darke county is Arcanum. It is situated on the western border of a level plain, and, at the time of settlement, was surrounded by an almost impenetrable swamp. This plain extends from Ithaca to Gettysburg and from Arcanum to Laura and is now a veritable garden spot, about twelve by eighteen miles in extent. The only break in this exceedingly fertile plain is a slight ridge - probably a minor moraine - extending from Arcanum to Pittsburg, and even this has been redeemed by cultivation. This village, it seems, owes its existence to the building of the Greenville and Miami (now D. & U.) railroad. We quote herewith an interesting article concerning the platting and naming of this village, from the pen of C. C. Pomeroy, the civil engineer, who laid it out. It was written at the request of Mrs. Jennie Lee (nee Francis) and published in the Arcanum Enterprise:

"At the suggestion of my esteemed friend, Col. William Armstrong, or rather his order; either form giving me pleasure to respond, 1 pull from memories budget a few straws relating to Arcanum, Darke county, one of Ohio's most thrifty inland towns. In the fall of 1846, a line of railroad was located from Dayton to Richmond. Fourteen miles west from Dayton, an angle was made to Greenville, twenty two miles. The road was then known as the Greenville and Miami railroad. Hiram Bell was president, afterwards a member of congress. When the line was located, it was all woods where the town of Dodson now is, and there were no towns from Dodson to Greenville. The. railway line to Greenville was chiefly in the woods, excepting now and then small clearings. In the fall of 1848, the writer and David Comly, son of Richard Comly, one of the owners of the Dayton Journal, were students of practical civil engineering under the tutorship of Phineas Pomeroy, then chief engineer of the road. We were assigned to take test levels and cross sections from Dodson to. Greenville; in the discharge of this order we reached a tasty, comfortable log house with three rooms and an 'upstairs' reached by a ladder; it was the home of Mr. John Gunder, carved out of the wilderness, embracing forty acres of cleared land on which the house stood. The day was one of 'chill November blasts' of which the poet sings; it rained and froze just enough to provoke saints, and more especially searchers after the science of engineering. It was four o'clock that day and we were just beyond Mr. Gunder's home in the woods, it was so foggy we could not take accurate observations with the level, so Dave said, 'Charley, let us quit, I am cold and hungry, let us go to Mr. Gunder's and stay all night.' Two hungry engineers met a hearty welcome there and were royally treated by Mrs. Gunder and her two daughters, and the sumptuous meal was done ample justice. At nightfall, Mr. Gunder came in from the woods, and during the evening chat said, 'Boys, tomorrow will be drizzling, and frozen and sloppy all the way to Greenville, and you might as well stay here and lay off a town plat for me.' Morning came and being unpropitious, so we remained and surveyed and mapped his town plat, and made a neat and pretty map and pinned it up on the log. When Mr. Gunder came he looked at it closely and was well pleased. The following colloquy then occurred: `Now Gunder what name will you have for your town, Gunderville?' 'No, No! Ohio has too many "villes" now; you boys select a name and have one that is not on the map of the globe; have it ready for me when I come from work, as I am going to Greenville tomorrow and will have it recorded.' We worried and stewed and fretted to get a name we thought would please him. At last, in view of the murky, damp, sullen, hazy afternoon, that hung in clouds of chunky darkness, a remark was made that there must be a word somewhere that fits the place and its surroundings to a 'gnat's heel;' it is dark, it is dismal, it is gloomy, how would 'Arcanum! do? It was printed in India ink on the map. Mr. Gunder came in just as we were about to eat supper, he observed the name and expressed great satisfaction with the selection. Sure enough, next day lie went to Greenville and had his map recorded. The clerk in the recorder's office told him the engineers were making fun of him in naming the town. `Howl?' Why do you know the name means "secret, hidden?" "I don't care what it means; is there a town in the world of that named?' No,' says the recorder. 'Then the people who live there will have no trouble in getting their mail,' said Gunder, 'and it is in harmony with surrounding conditions."

"And this is the way Arcanum, now one of the prettiest, busy towns in Ohio, got its name, and no town in the state is in advance of it in enterprise, intelligence, energy and prosperity.

"C. C. POMEROY, Civil Engineer."


Another version of the story about the naming of the town is to the effect that Gunder had a bull which, for some unknown reason, he called "Arcanum." This animal, it seems, had strayed away and while looking for it he came upon a group of men working long the right of way of the new railway. Suddenly catching sight of the bull he exclaimed, "There's Arcanum," whereupon the name was seized upon and applied to the neighborhood railway station.

Like many other traditions this is probably a corruption of the true story and we can do no better than accept the plausible statement made and signed by the engineer who laid out the town as above noted.

The Greenville and Miami railway was not completed to Arcanum, however, until 1852, but its coming was the great "red letter" day in the history of the village and township. From henceforth Arcanum was put in close touch with Dayton and the outside world, and the long, tedious journeys to this market through the slashes of Painter and Ludlow creeks and over the corduroy roads became a thing of the past. Messrs. Samuel and John Smith were the pioneer merchants. Whey opened the first store here June 20, 1851, and through their energy, industry and business qualifications helped to make the place develop rapidly.

The rapid growth of the new village is forcibly indicated by the following business directory, published in 1857:

Dry goods stores, grocers and grain dealers - S. D. Smith, J. Thomas & Son, Albright & Oliver, John Smith, J. F. Roser, and Sprecher & Bro.
American Hotel-John A. Raylor.
Steam grist mill and distillery-Voorhes, Shepherd & Bro.
Physician and surgeon-Jesse J. Paramore.
Cabinet warerooms and undertaker-C. Bantling.
Tailor-Israel Steinmetz.
Coopers-Henry Kester, Henry Glasmeir.
Carpenter and joiner-George Lowe.
Boot and shoe maker-Samuel Garrett.
Wagon and carriage maker-D. B. Baker.
Blacksmith-A. Deweese.
Carpenter and joiner-John Fleck.
Brick and stone mason-P. Snodderly.
Carpenter and joiner-S. B. Thomas.
Station man (G. & M. R. R.), James Battern.
Tailor-A. B. Steinmetz.
Mason and bricklayer-John C. Bocanon.

Arcanum has long been known for its business enterprise and its large mercantile establishments are the wonder of the stranger accustomed to the trading facilities of the ordinary village.

This village has likewise shown much enterprise in religious, social and educational enterprises.

The Methodists built a church here as early as 1856, and now have a strong congregation.

The United Brethren built a brick church in 1860, on the corner of East and South streets; where the present church now stands. Previously they had worshipped in a little log church on the farm now owned by Andrew Clark, one fourth of a mile east of Arcanum, where they had organized a society in 1853. The present church was erected in 1896, at an approximate cost of $10,000. This is one of the strong denominations of the county and has now an enrollment of about 400 in the church, and 500 in the Sunday school.

The present church officers are:

P. W. Byers, Jacob Miller, Jr., G. T. Riegle, William Clark and E. B. Hawley.

Trustees of the church Sunday school superintendent, G. T. Riegle; class leader, H. O. Hoffman, president of W. M. A., Mrs. E. B. Hawley; president of Golden Link Society, Mrs. Myrtle Shumaker; president of C. E., Miss Nettie Robbins; president of Junior C. E., Mrs. Nana Cartmell; general steward, C. A. Smith; class stewards, Marion Trump, J. H. Potts, H. O. Hoffman, Abraham Nyswonger.

The Reformed denomination built a church in 1879, but the society at the present time is practically dormant with a membership of about thirty five.

Arcanum has produced some men of exceptional talent in the past and now takes great pride in referring to the Sigafoos brothers, Charles P. and Edward, who are sons of George W. Sigafoos, deceased, at one time a prominent dry goods merchant in the village. Charles P. Sigafoos was born May 4, 1865 and received his elementary education in the public schools. He was graduated from the Ohio State University in 1889, spent one year at the University of Virginia and four years at Johns Hopkins' University. He soon became a professor of biology in the University of Wisconsin and during some twenty years in this chair has probably tutored more students in this science than any other professor in the United States.

Edward Sigafoos was born December 14, 1868. After a course in the common schools he entered Ohio State University and, was graduated from that institution in 1891. While in the latter school he manifested a taste and talent for military science and was persuaded by some prominent citizens of the state to apply for entrance in the regular army of the United States. After passing the required examination at Washington, D. C., he was appointed a second lieutenant and spent two years in the excellent advanced military school at Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1898 he was commissioned first lieutenant and served one year under General Wood at Santiago, Cuba. He has recently attained the rank of major and is serving with the army in Vera Cruz, Mexico. In December, 1895, he married Opal, the daughter of Dr. Donovan Robeson, of Greenville, Ohio. The progressive spirit of Arcanum is reflected in the schools which maintain a high standard. The high school course comprises four years and leads up to colledge admission. The school library contains 1,000 volumes. Prof. O. G. Hershey has been the enterprising and enthusiastic superintendent for several years.

Arcanum is well provided with fraternal and secret organizations, having Masonic, Odd Fellows, K. of P., and Junior order lodges.

Arcanum Lodge No. 341, I. O. O. F. was instituted August 9, 1858, with the following charter members: Adam Bartoch, Jacob Thomas, Joseph Gootlieb, Adam B. Steinmetz, Samuel Garsett, Samuel D. Ross, Evan Henninger, Thomas Morton and Philip Sprecher. It now owns property valued at $7,500 and has a membership of about 200.

Jewel Rebekah Lodge No. 255 was given charter May 18, 1888, with twenty three members. It now has about forty members.

The Masonic lodge is known as Ithaca Lodge No. 295, F. & A. M. and was organized at Ithaca, October 21, 1857, with ten members, viz.: William A. Matchett, Daniel Ridenour, William Colville, S. C. Engle, Martin J. Colville, Milton McNeal, J. H. Engle, Caswell Sharp, Clark Baker and Elijah Heath.

This lodge now owns its own property and has a membership of about one hundred.

There is also an Eastern Star lodge here.

Arcanum now has a fine, large brick city building, erected about 1890, at a cost of some $12,000. It contains the offices of the various city officials, the fire department and an excellent auditorium with a seating capacity of several hundred. The city also owns its own water works and electric light plant. There are two hotels, two banks, two newspapers, a building association, a postoffice, elevator, tile yard, saw and planing mill, lumber yard, two flour mills, a creamery, monumental works and other enterprises. A large proportion of the tobacco produced in the county is raised in the level black land of Franklin, Monroe and Twin townships, and much of this is marketed in Arcanum where several large warehouses are located. The Peoria division of the C. C. C. & St. L. railway gives a good east and weet outlet to the village and the Ohio Electric railway makes connection with Dayton and Greenville quite convenient.

Several blocks of the main streets have recently been paved with brick and other public improvements made.

The census of 1910 showed a population of 1,361, in the town and a total of 2,925 in the entire township.

The tax duplicate for 1913 showed real property to the extent of $904,560, and chattels to the extent of $548,560 in Arcanum and $2,094,570 in real estate and $882,290 in chattels in Twin township outside of Arcanum.

Return to [ Ohio History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ] [ Ohio Biographies ]


Ohio Counties at this web site - Ashland - Auglaize - Champaign - Columbiana - Cuyahoga - Darke - Erie - Franklin - Fulton - Madison - Mercer - Ross - Seneca - Shelby

Also see the local histories for [ CA ] [ CT ] [ IA ] [ IL ] [ IN ] [ KS ] [ MA ] [ ME ] [ MO ] [ MI ] [ MN ] [ NE ] [ NJ ] [ NY ] [ PA ] [ OH ] [ PA ] [ WI ]

[ Much more Ohio History may be found at Linkpendium ]


All pages copyright 2003-2013. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy