History of Perkins Township, Erie County, OH

From: The Centennial History of Erie County, Ohio
By: H. L. Peeke
President of the Firelands Historical Society
Sandusky, Ohio 1925


Perkins Township

Perkins is bounded on the north by Sandusky, or Portland Township, on the east by Huron Township, on the south by Oxford, and on the west by Margaretta. The township is generally level, but in some parts undulating and marked by several elevated ridges, which consist mostly of yellow sand. The principal one of these extends across the township in a southwesterly direction, ending at Bloomingville. The soil is very fertile and of great variety. The sandy ridges are adapted to all kinds of crops. South of the ridges are the prairies, composed of black alluvial earth, on which is grown mostly grain. In sections 2 and 3 limestone soil abounds, and in some particular localities good clay for brick and tile is found. The ridge mentioned divides the prairie from the timber land. Part of sections 1 and 4 is prairie, stretching to the west with intervening groves of hickory and black oak. In the northern portion of the township was a dense growth of black and white walnut, maple, whitewood, black and white oak, linn and several other kinds of trees. There are no marshes or waste land in the township, and it is one of the most productive in the Firelands. The township is watered by no very large streams. Mills Creek crosses section 3 and empties into the bay west of Sandusky. Pipe Creek passes through sections 4, 3 and 2, and flows into the bay east of Sandusky. Another small stream, called Plum Brook, heads on the prairie, passes near Bogart, through section 2, and finds its way into the cove. Much of the land is thoroughly underdrained, and is in a high state of cultivation.

Among the different tribes of Indians who inhabited the firelands were the Delawares and Ottawas, which belonged to the Algonquin family, and the Wyandots or Hurons, and the Senecas, which belonged to the Huron-Iroquois family. As late as 1818 the township was dotted over with Indian wigwams. Near Bogart's Corners was an unusually large encampment, on the farm afterward owned by A. N. Baker. As late as 1889 there still remained near the east line of the township twelve or fifteen buildings composed of poles and bark; and in the northwest corner of section 2 there used to be the ruins of an old fort. The walls were of earth, about three feet in height, through which was an opening or gateway leading to a spring, the path to which had been worn to the depth of one foot. These remains were long ago leveled by the settlers. In different parts of the township relics of these tribes are found, consisting of the flint arrowhead, the charm, the battleax and scalping knife; and in some instances skeletons have been exhumed. These were invariably buried in a sitting posture, their faces turned westward. In 1887 some workmen employed in making an excavation on the farm of A. A. Storrs found six skeletons of Indians, some of which were well preserved. Near the south line and north of Bloomingville, on the farm of Solomon Jarrett, there was found an Indian grave, which had been covered by two large slabs of stone three feet long, the upper ends of which rested together and the lower ends apart. Between these were ashes and charcoal, and on them lay a claw hammer, worn and battered. This may have been obtained at the old French fort at Venice.

The township derives its name from Hon. Elias Perkins, a resident of New London, Connecticut. Almon Ruggles made the first survey in 1808. Huron County was created in 1809, and Perkins became one of its townships. Previous to the year 1810 no actual settlement had been made. It is true that one or two settlers were living within the limits, but they were transient and only remained a year or two. In the year just mentioned, Rev. John Beatty, then a resident of Connecticut, purchased of the Firelands company nearly all the land in Perkins township. After the purchase was completed he, in company with Thomas James, who wished to purchase land, started immediately for the "Great West." They traveled through Pennsylvania, where they were joined by James Fonvyth, Mr. Beatty's brother-in-law. Their line of travel carried them through Pittsburgh and Cleveland, which were only small villages. After a long, tiresome trip, traveling with ox teams, and with many hairbreadth escapes, they arrived at Perkins. Soon after, Mr. James bought land of Mr. Beatty in the south part of section 4, and immediately built a log cabin, thus becoming the first actual settler. The next settlers were Christian Winters and John Freese, who arrived from Canada in 1812, and settled in the northeast corner of the township, living there many years. At the close of the War of 1812 Mr. Beatty, who had looked well over the township, selected Perkins as his future home. He accordingly removed his family to the township, accompanied by the following persons: Julius House, Jesse Taylor, Holly Akins, Roswell Hubbard, Harvey Covell, Eleazer Bell, Joseph Taylor, Plinney Johnson, Richard Christopher, William R. Beebe, and Joseph Taylor, Jr. These all purchased land of Mr. Beatty, and erected log cabins on the ridge road leading to Bloomingville, and known as "Yankee Settlement."

The first birth among the settlers of Perkins was that of Christopher, son of Plinney Johnson, in 1817, and the second was a daughter of Tarvey Covell, afterward the wife of Dwight Buck, of Toledo.

The first marriage was that of William Robinson to Rhoda House, in 1817. The next was that of William R. Beebe and Miss Minerva Bell, who afterwards married Gen. W. D. Lindsley, of Sandusky.

In a small log schoolhouse, which had been built on the farm afterward owned by Dennis Taylor, the first township election was held in the spring of 1818, which resulted in the election of the following officers: John Beatty, township clerk; Eleizur Lockwood, John Frees, Julius House, trustees; William Beebe and Roswell Hubbard, constables; John Dillingham and Harvey Covell, fence viewers.

After Mr. Beatty became settled he had the land surveyed where Bogart now stands, and laid out in town lots, some of which were sold, but afterward reverted again to their original owner. In the spring of 1819 he commenced building a stone residence at Bogart, which was one of the landmarks of the township, and was known for many years as the "Half Way House." It was occupied for many years as a tavern and was well known in all parts of the country. Teamsters, in hauling grain to Sandusky from Mansfield and vicinity, used to stop there, and as many as forty teams have been seen in the yards at night. The stage, in making its regular trips from Milan to Sandusky for twenty five years, also stopped there. In 1817 Mr. Beatty was appointed the first postmaster in the township. He distributed the mails from his log house, a drygoods box with some shelves being used to contain the mail. It is said that he never reported to the department, and he was removed and the office discontinued in 1818 or 1819.

The second postoffice was established in 1861, by Addison Mixter, and called Prairieville; but after one year it was discontinued. After this the people continued to receive their mail at Sandusky until 1882, when J. D. Parker was appointed postmaster.

Mr. Beatty kept in the stone house a small stock of dry goods, The first blacksmith shop was erected by Mr. Johnson on the ground afterward occupied by F. Siegel. Rev. William Gurley kept a shop in which he devoted himself to the silversmith business. Mr. Kellogg was the proprietor of a cooper shop. John Brodhead was the only carpenter. A tavern was kept by Holly Akins, on the location afterward occupied by J. D. Parker's store. Mr. Bell, father of Stewart Bell, of Sandusky, who died at an early day, was a ship carpenter. In the year 1817 he built a small vessel near the lake. It required forty yoke of oxen and a number of men to move it to the shore, which was accomplished after much labor. It was launched a short distance west of the village of Huron. Doctor Christopher, a graduate of Yale College and possessed of a fine education, was without doubt the first practicing physician in the township, his office being located at Bogart. As the pioneers manufactured most of their wearing apparel, looms and spinning wheels were in good demand. These were made to order by Mr. Hubbard, a wheelwright.

In the fall of 1811 Rev. William Gurley and family arrived on the Firelands and settled in Huron County, on the edge of the prairie, in a log cabin near the south line of Perkins Township. At this time there was no minister of the gospel within fifty miles. Great was the joy of the settlers of the surrounding townships when they heard that a preacher had arrived. The announcement was made that Mr. Gurley would preach in the schoolhouse at Bloomingville on the following Sunday. The people living within ten or twelve miles assembled at the appointed time, and among them were several Indians who came from curiosity. Mr. Gurley organized a class of ten members at the close, and this was the first sermon and society on the Firelands. The surrender of General Hull at Detroit caused a stampede among the settlers, many of whom did not return till the close of the war. After the war a wide field of labor opened to Mr. Gurley, which extended nearly over the county. As there was much sickness and many deaths, he was called upon to attend nearly all the funerals. He often remarked, "What a multitude I have buried, and nearly all younger than myself." He continued his labors for twenty five years, preaching his last sermon at the age of eighty nine.

Soon after the arrival of John Beatty and his colony of settlers from Connecticut in the fall of 1815, he, with others, proceeded to organize a Methodist society, which was the first in the township. Julius House was chosen class leader, a position he occupied for fifty years. Services were held at the log schoolhouse or dwellings until about the year 1830, when a large frame building was erected opposite where the brick church now stands. After the society was formed no regular preaching was held till February, 1818, although occasional sermons were preached by John Beatty.

The Ohio Conference, in the fall of 1817, attached five appointments to the Cuyahoga circuit. These appointments were such a distance from the circuit that the minister in charge would not accept them. Rev. James B. Finley, the presiding elder, sent Reverend Bronson to form a circuit and become pastor of the same the balance of the year. Perkins was his fourth appointment. When the time arrived for his first quarterly meeting, the presiding elder being absent. Rev. William Gurley officiated. This was the first quarterly meeting held on the Firelands. This society has prospered continuously from the time of its organization. The frame building spoken of was occupied until the year 1854, when a commodious two story brick building was erected. On the north and east sides comfortable horse sheds were built. A pleasant and cozy parsonage for the use of the pastor occupies an adjoining lot. The Sunday school was first organized about 1830.

The educational interest is an important feature of the township. In the year 1816 a log schoolhouse was built on the farm of Jesse Taylor, and the winter school was taught by Doctor Christopher. Ann Beatty, daughter of John Beatty, taught the following summer. The pay was very small in those days. Female teachers received from $9 to $6 per month, and male teachers $10 or $12. Board was furnished, which the teacher got by "boarding round." Tuition was paid by each family in proportion to the number of pupils sent. As the township filled up with settlers it was divided into eleven school districts, and later fine brick or frame school buildings with all the modern appliances were built at a cost of from $1,500 to $2,000.

One of the first literary societies in the township, and in fact in this part of the state, was composed of a number of young men from the townships of Perkins, Huron and Milan, about the year 1819. The late Rev. L. B. Gurley was a member of this society. They usually met on one of the ridges on Saturday during the summer and debated many important questions. In later years societies for both social and intellectual improvement have been organized at different times, to meet during the winter season and suspend during the summer months.

Another society, the Ladies' Home Mission, deserves mention. It was organized many years ago by the ladies of the township for benevolent and charitable purposes. The meetings were held regularly at the residences of the members the first Thursday of each month.

In March, 1874, Perkins Grange, No. 637, Patrons of Husbandry, was organized with a charter membership of thirty three. The growth was rapid, and by May of the same year the membership had increased to eighty five. From 1876 to 1881 little interest was taken in the grange, and members gradually dropped out, but later the organization was revived. The late Col. D. C. Richmond was an active member in effecting its organization, of which he held the office of worthy master.

The hamlet of Bogart is located in the southeastern corner of section 2, at the junction of the roads leading to Sandusky, Huron, Milan, Bloomingville and Castalia. In the course of the year considerable business is transacted.

Oakland cemetery is a beautiful park in the northeastern corner of section 2, on the banks of Pipe Creek. It is systematically laid out into lots, with driveways bordered with maples, evergreens, willows and various other trees. The grounds are under the care of a superintendent, who, with a corps of assistants, keep the enclosure in perfect condition. A stone wall bounds the cemetery on the north and east sides. A large stone vault and chapel stands near the entrance, which is on the Milan road leading from Sandusky; also a handsome and substantial dwelling of Queen Anne style for the use of the superintendent. As this place is the burying ground of Sandusky, as well as Perkins Township, it is visited by many people almost every day in the year.

The Erie County Infirmary Farm adjoins the cemetery on the west. The main building, which is of blue limestone, presents an imposing and handsome appearance. It was built in 1886, at a cost of about $40,000, to replace one destroyed by fire the winter of 1885-86. The building is heated by steam, and is as near fireproof as it was known how to make it at that time. Of recent years a convenient and well equipped hospital has been added.

The Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Home is located in section 2, south of the cemetery. The work of building was begun in 1887. The buildings are of stone, with brick partitions and slate roofs, of handsome designs and substantial character. The buildings are set in a large and beautiful park, with a cemetery adjoining, and this institution sometimes accommodates as many as 1,500 veterans at one time.

The agricultural interests of the township are flattering. The soil is of the richest quality, well underdrained, and is adapted to raising all kinds of crops. The limestone soil produces a good yield of wheat, while on the ridges a variety of crops is raised, the principal one being potatoes, of which, during a favorable season, thousands of bushels are produced. On the prairie soil, corn and oats are mostly raised. Large quantities of apples, peaches, grapes, strawberries and other small fruits are raised and shipped.

The shipping of moulding sand is an important business. This sand is found only on the sandy ridges before mentioned, and is of the finest quality. It is found just below the soil, which is usually about one foot in depth. The soil is first removed and placed at one side, after which the sand is taken out and the soil replaced, which leaves the land in good condition. Hundreds of tons are annually shipped to all parts of the United States. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, which passes through the central part of the township, furnishes an excellent shipping point, known as Green's Station, about four miles from Sandusky. From here a large share of the sand is shipped, also quantities of produce.

GENERAL PERRY NULL

For more than three years General Perry Null has performed his duties as commandant of The Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Home to the satisfaction of the members and has continued to hold his position under an adverse political administration.

He was born December 29th, 1877 at Genoa, Ohio. His father Levi Null was a farmer. His mother's name was Emmeline. He had what education the Genoa schools could give him and graduated from the High School in 1895. He then taught school in 1895 and 1896 to get money to go to college and he graduated from Angola college Indiana in 1899. He entered the miliary service in 1898, enlisting in Company H. 157th Indiana Volunteer Infantry for the duration of the War. Honorably discharged he returned home and for nine years was a traveling salesman. His marriage February 24th, 1909 to his present wife Dorothy Sturzinger induced him to engage in Market gardening in which business he continued until his appointment as Commandant October 4th, 1924. His wife was the daughter of Gottlieb and Dorothy Sturzinger and has spent all her life in this county. Politically a Republican he has served as a member of the county central committee, and the executive committee, and has been elected committeeman from Perkins Township. Socially he is a member of the Rotary Club, the Elks and the Perkins Grange besides belonging to about all the Masonic Bodies including the Shrine. In his various activities he has been ably assisted by his wife who was made matron of the Soldiers Home by Governor Harry Davis at the time of her husband's appointment as Commander. Mrs. Null was born April 14th, 1888 in Perkins township and attended the Public schools. Later she attended Shepardson College at Granville Ohio and later graduated from Northwestern College at Naperville Illinois. For a time she taught in the Perkins public schools and later taught music in the Genoa Public Schools. She was the first President of Erie County Federation of Women's Clubs, and first President of the Woman's Republican Club of Erie County, Ohio. These activities have not prevented her from attending to her duties as a wife and a mother of two daughters Virginia Alice Null born December 8th, 1910 and Doris Kathryn born January 24th, 1915.


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