History of Franklin Township, OH
From: The History of Fulton County, Ohio
Thomas Mikesell, Editor
Published by: Norhtwestern Historical Association, 1905


THE commissioners of Lucas county, on the first day of March, 1841, erected Franklin township, by taking all of town ten south, range one east, excepting one mile off the west end of town ten south, range one east, which had been previously cut off from the township of Gorham, and all of towns eight north, range five east, and one tier of sections off of the north side of town seven north, range five east, from German township, and immediately entered upon its civil jurisdiction as a part of the organization of Lucas county. On February 28, 1850, the legislature of Ohio, in creating the new county of Fulton, ran the west boundary line west of the line of old Wood county, and afterwards Lucas county, arid added to the further area of Franklin, from the township of Brady in Williams county, sections 1 and 2 of town seven north, range four east; and sections 35 and 36, town eight north, range four east, and the west tier of fractional sections one mile wide off of town ten south, range one east, and two tiers of sections, to wit: One and two and fractional sections 11 and 12, off the west side of town ten south, range one west, of Milicreek township in Williams county, which thereafter became a part and parcel of Franklin township, which thus embraces in its area six parts of congressional surveys.

Thus it will be seen that Franklin township, as at first organized, obtained its territory in almost equal shares from German and Gorham townships, but later received a considerable addition from Williams county. Speaking approximately, twelve sections of land were taken from German, the same amount from Gorham, and about ten sections from the neighboring county of Williams. Franklin township is quite regular in form, bounded on three sides by straight lines, eight miles in length (east and west), south of the Fulton line, and about nine ,miles in length north of it, while the extent, north and south, is about four miles. It is bounded on the north by Gorham township, on the east by Dover, while German lies on the south and Williams county on the west. The "Fulton line," so called, divides the township into two parts that are nearly equal in size.

The surface of Franklin township is unbroken and generally level. The drainage is principally towards the southwest, and the valleys of the small streams, with naturally higher adjoining land, are the only exception to the general application of the term. The terntory is well watered, the principal stream being Bean Creek, which rises at Devil's Lake in the State of Michigan, and flows southward through the central portion of Franklin and empties its waters and streamlets in the Maumee at Defiance. Mill Creek has its source in Williams county, passes through the southeast corner of Gorham township, and entering Franklin on its northern boundary, empties its water into Bean Creek. These streams are not large, but they afforded waterpower for the early mills which were established along their banks.

Franklin township was originally covered with all kinds of native timber, and the quality was of the best. The principal varieties were oak, hickory and maple, while black walnut, butternut, elm, sycamore, buckeye and willow were also quite plentiful.

The soil of this township is a heavy bed of clay overlying a subsoil of sand and gravel. Occasionally the sand appears upon the surface. The soil is very fertile, and produces heavy crops of all kinds of cereals, and all the land of the township is made to yield profitable returns to the owners. Stock raising and fruit culture receive considerable attention, and these afford good margins of profit.

Joseph Bates was the first permanent settler in Franklin township. This distinction has also been accorded him in relation to Brady township, in Williams county, but the double honor is accounted for in the fact that his allegiance was changed by the legislature of the state of Ohio, without the necessity of his removal. He came from Hardin county, Ohio, in the spring of 1833, and settled on the tract of land afterwards so well known as the John Shilling farm. There he lived for a period of twenty-eight years, seventeen of which was as a citizen of Williams county and the remainder of the time a loyal tax-payer in Fulton. It is not understood, however, that Mr. Bates was one of the instigators of the movement which led to the transfer of his allegiance, and he therefore is relieved of the suspicion of being actuated by motives, such as are ascribed to an old Virginia lady. Some years ago, North Carolina claimed that a re-survey of the boundary line between that state and the Old Dominion would add a strip of territory to her domain that had hitherto been considered a part of Virginia. The old lady in question happened to live on a part of the disputed strip, and was greatly concerned lest the proposed survey would make her a resident of the "Tar-heel" State. When asked the reason for her fears she replied, "I don't want to live in North Carolina, for I've always heard that it is so awfully unhealthy there."

Joseph Bates was born in the state of Vermont in the year 1787, went to Canada and married Miss Harriet Dodge. The fruits of said marriage were four sons and four daughters, who came with him to Williams county, or that part of it which is now Fulton. Mr. Bates moved from Canada to New York, and from there to Ohio, where he settled while yet in early life. After coming here, in a very early day, he ran a hotel, called "J. Bates's Inn," but in 1861 he sold his possessions to William Ayers and moved to Iowa, where he died, August 1, 1866, at the advanced age of seventynine years.

After a space of nearly two years, John Shaffer and Adam Poorman entered the Bean Creek valley, near where Samuel B. Darby lived and kept a store, March, 1835. They got to Bean Creek just at dark, John Shaffer settling on section 32, town eight north, range five east, and Adam Poorman on section 5, town seven north, range five east. When arriving on the banks of the Bean they encamped over night-there being a heavy snow upon the ground. about four inches deep-and each spent the night as best he could and as only pioneers knew how. At daylight next morning they felled two trees across the creek, cut poles and split what they could and made a bridge across the turbid Bean, then swollen, after which they moved over with their goods and families, as their land lay upon the north side of the creek. They encamped on a piece of rising ground the next night after crossing, and the next morning were surrounded with water from one to five feet in depth, the melting snow and rain making quite a flood. When the water went down they put up a cabin for each family. In 1851, John Shaffer sold his farm to Lyman Morrison and moved into Fulton township, and from there, in 1858 or 1859, moved to Montcalm county, Michigan, where he died many years ago. In 1846, Adam Poorman sold his farm to Daniel Thomas, and then bought land and moved into Dover township, on section six, town ten south, range two east, and commenced again his pioneer's life upon soil equally liable to overflow with water as where he first settled, in Franklin. There he died, many years ago, respected and lamented by his neighbors.

Soon after John Shaffer and Adam Poorman had got their cabins up, John McLaughlin and Samuel Ayers came to the township from Richland county, Ohio, to hunt themselves homes. John McLaughlin was born in Perry county, Pennsylvania, December 22, 1812, and moved to Richiand county, Ohio, in early manhood, and from the latter place accompanied Mr. Ayers to what is now Fulton county. They arrived at Bean Creek just at dark and found the bridge which had been built by Shaffer and Poorman. They thought to cross with the team, but Mr. Ayers said he would try it first, and accordingly walked nearly over, when the poles of the bridge floated and he fell through into the water, up to his waist. They then returned their horses to the wagon, and hearing the sound of a cow-bell some eighty or ninety rods north, concluded to try and cross the bridge on foot, leaving the team where it was. They found the cabin of John Shaffer, at about eight o'clock and there they stayed over night. The next morning, with the assistance of Mr. Shaffer, they fixed up the bridge and got the team over the creek, and McLaughlin and Ayers, going on their way further west soon found themselves homes - McLaughlin on section 1, town 7 north, range 4 east; Ayers on section 2, town seven north, range four east, Ohio survey. Asher E. Bird of Pennylvania, settled here on section 8, town ten south, range one east, in 1836, and the next year built the first water mill on Mill Creek, which gave it the name it bears at the present time. This was the first grist-mill built and run in the township.

In 1837, Joseph Ely, Martin Pike, William Young, James Baxter, Jabez Jones and Albert Chatfield, all settled on the west side of the creek, excepting Mr. Chatfield, who settled upon the east bank, farther north. In 1838, Jacob Shaffer, Sr., settled on section 12, town ten south, range one east; Michael Shaffer on section 35, town eight north, range five east; David Ely on Section 2, town seven north, range five east, and Thomas Walters on section 36, town eight north, range five east. John Bowser, Sr., came from Fairfield county, Ohio, in the spring of 1838, and settled on section 34, town eight north, range five east. He was a preacher of the society of the United Brethren in Christ, and his house long served as the traveler's home, and a meeting-house. His settlement here soon drew many of his old neighbors from Fairfield county, to wit: Dorsey Barnes, his son-in-law; Ozias Barnes, John J. Clark, Jacob Hanshy, Moses Kirtz, Noah Specht, all followers of Father Bowser, who was soon surrounded with a religious element of his own faith. John J. Clark was a native of Pennsylvania, and settled in Fulton county, in 1839. Mr. Bowser died in 1844.

In 1837, Samuel B. Darby and family came from Elmira, Chemung county, New York, and encamped upon the bank of Bean Creek, putting up a cabin a short time thereafter. He and family were nearly three months upon the road, and endured many hardships in getting here. He was a very prominent settler in Franklin, and for many years the foremost leader in affairs of the county. He died at his old homestead, July 15, 1881, aged seventy-seven years.

Peter Minich and Peter Andre settled on sections 1 and 2, town seven, range five east, in 1839. Peter Minich was born in Northampton county, Pennsylvania, in 1806, and after moving to Fulton county, he cleared up a good farm, and died in December, 1881, at the advanced age of seventy-five years. Peter Andre sold out in 1845, and moved to Wisconsin, where he soon after died.

Thomas Walters settled on section 36, town eight north, range five east, in 1838; Joseph Ely, Leonard Whitmore, David Meriolett and George Miller also came during the same year. In 1839, came Benjamin Borton, George McFarlan, Asher Ely and his sons, William and O. S. Ely, and John Sparks. Benjamin Borton was born in Burlington county, New Jersey, twelve miles from Philadelphia, March 16, 1809. He settled in Franklin township, in 1839, and soon became a leading citizen, filling the officers of township trustee, school director and supervisor. In 1840, came John Wooster and Chauncey Loveland from Richland county. Wooster was a carpenter by trade and became to the settlers a very useful man. In 1841, came Nathan Borton, a preacher of the Quakers, also John Borton, who settled on section 35, town eight north, range four east; also Isaac Borton, John Jones, P. S. Vanortwick and his sons, Abram and John, and Peter Vanderveer

Nathan Borton was born in Burlington county, New Jersey, in 1810, and was a son of Bethuel Borton, who died in New Jersey in 1831, leaving a widow and nine children. Nathan, with his mother and four of the children, settled in German township, Fulton county, in 1836, and the mother died there Nathan Borton was the first justice of the peace in German township, and in 1841, he moved into Franklin township, where he served as township treasurer and also held other offices

In 1842, came John Kendall, who in an early day settled in Gorham, Christian Swartzentruver, Dorsey Barnes, and possibly others that have been overlooked.

From 1842 to 1850, the time of the organization of Fulton county, improvements had been made rapidly, and the township began to present a homelike appearance, while immigration commenced to move to Franklin as welt as other townships of the county. In 1843, came John Dennis, Orrin G. Greely; in 1844, John Jacoby, John Fisher, Bethuel Borton, Peter Hagerman; in 1845, James S. Riddle, Adam Andre, Nathan Oliver, Philip R. Fisher, John Mason, Josiah Mason, Reuben Mason, J. C. Mason, John Arch, Ezekiel Masters, Jacob Cox and his son, John Cox, Benjamin Persing and Lucius N. Chatfield; in 1846, John McGowen, George Kibler, David Carr and families, Daniel Thomas; in 1847, John Gype and large family; in 1848, John Hardin, Gideon Long, Joshua Conoway, Obediah Borton and Chockley Harlan; in 1849, Richard Rider, Harvey Miller.

John Jacoby was born in Seneca county, New York, March 5, 1822, and settled in Franklin township in 1844. His parents, John and Sallie Jacoby, who were natives of Pennsylvania, came into Fulton county, in 1835, and his father died here in 1842.

Adam Andre was one of the pioneers of Franklin township, and was born in Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, in 1815. He moved with his parents to Seneca county, Ohio, in 1834, and he remained there until 1845, when he came to Franklin township and purchased a farm of eighty acres, for which he paid four hundred and fifty dollars. He became a leading man in the township, and filled all of the offices at different times; was justice of the peace for six years, treasurer, trustee, supervisor, etc. He was a grower of pure-blooded stock and made a specialty of registered hogs. He was an early carpenter and builder, but farming interests engrossed his attention to such an extent that he followed his trade but very little.

Phillip R. Fisher was a native of Pennsylvania, and settled in Franklin township in 1845, where he was successful as a stock raiser and farmer. Lucius N. Chatfield was born in Derby, Connecticut, April 8, 1807. At the age of twelve years he was brought by his parents to Geauga county, Ohio, and there he grew to manhood. receiving a very fair education under the direction of his father, who was a teacher as well as a farmer. The grandfather of Mr. Chatfield was a very wealthy man in Connecticut at the time of the Revolutionary war, owning 800 acres of land and two grist-mills. These mills were worked night and day to furnish food for Washington's soldiers. Joshua Conoway was born in Coshocton county, Ohio, February 17, 1819, and settled in Franklin township in 1848. He was a carpenter by trade, but devoted the major portion of his time to farming. He filled the position of justice of the peace and also clerk of Franklin township.

The first house built for school purposes was erected by Samuel B. Darby. Samantha Crandall, Jane Brundridge and Samuel B. Darby were early teachers. As the inhabitants increased, schools were opened from time to time, and there are now eight buildings devoted to school purposes within the bounds of the township. These are good brick or frame structures, equipped with modern appliances, and the schools therein are conducted by well qualified teachers.

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