History of Franklin Township, Franklin County OH

From: History of Franklin County, Ohio
By: Opha Moore
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka - Indianapolis, 1930


FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP.

Immediately after its formation Franklin County was divided into four townships of nearly equal size. The southwestern of these townships was named Franklin and, as originally constituted, was about twice the size of Franklin County, as it now appears on the map. It is the only township which bears its original name. From time to time new townships were formed from its area, until it was finally reduced in 1819 to its present size by the creation of Prairie Township. Franklin Township, which has been largely absorbed into the city of Columbus, was the site of the first permanent settlement in Central Ohio and was the scene of practically all the pioneer happenings of the state's future capital. The Wyandotte Indians had a large town on this site and from there made raids on the white settlements to the East and South. Mr. Jeremiah Armstrong, who for many years kept a tavern in Columbus, was captured when a boy in an Indian raid on the frontiers of Pennsylvania and brought to the future site of Franklinton. He resided with the Indians for some years, but was later surrendered to his friends, only to return to the scene of his boyhood captivity. Mr. Robert Armstrong was captured about the same time by a marauding band of Wyandottes and Senecas, and brought to the village on the west bank of the Scioto. He lived, married and died among them, but never forgot his origin, acting on various occasions as an interpreter for the United States government. One of his sons attained some prominence as a lawyer in this state. The last remnant of this once powerful tribe that remained at the old gathering place was a harmless old Indian who is said to have been shot by a white hunter, Daniel Harrington.

The township contains a large amount of rich farm land, which is being rapidly absorbed into the city. Except along the streams, of which it has three principal ones, the Scioto River, the Olentangy River and Scioto Big Run, the land is generally level, and along the Scioto River it is especially rich, producing enormous crops of corn. It was through this township that the National Road was projected and along that famous highway there were developed some beautiful farms, with unusually handsome buildings. Just west of the city of Columbus, lying between the city and the village of Rome, is the handsome suburban residence of Mr. Thomas Johnson, one of the show farms of the state and the seat of various kinds of live stock development. The building of an electric suburban railway line from the city to Morgan's Station southwest made a fine development in that direction, and the Harrisburgh Pike, along which the road ran, is an almost continuous street. On this line is Urbancrest, the only exclusively negro village in Franklin County. It has a population of 581, according to the census of 1930.

The sites of the Central Insane Asylum and the State Institution for Imbecile Youth were originally in Franklin Township, but have become a part of the city of Columbus. The insane asylum was built by Thomas F. Jones, who removed to Columbus from Marietta for that purpose after completing the asylum at Athens, and the main building of the institution at one time covered more ground than any other single structure in the world.

Here, too, lying along the south of the National Road, was Camp Chase, the mustering in place for many thousands of Union soldiers in the Civil War. The camp was originally Camp Jackson, but this was changed to give honor to Salmon P. Chase, who was then secretary of the Treasury of the United States and had been a distinguished governor of Ohio. The camp stretched from Broad Street (the National Road) on the north to Sullivant Avenue on the south and, besides being a rendezvous for newly enlisted soldiers of the Union, it became the home of paroled prisoners of war and housed a huge prison where Confederate soldiers were kept. Many thousands of these unfortunate exiles from the Southland died there and some five thousand were buried in a plat of land lying along the north side of Sullivant Avenue. For many years this cemetery was neglected, but attention was called to this by a public spirited veteran of the Union Army, Colonel William K. Knauss, and steps were taken to clear it of underbrush, to mark the graves and to pay proper respect to the memory of brave men, even if they did die in a wrong cause. Every year these graves are decorated as religiously as if they were the graves of soldiers of the North and on those occasions great and wonderful masses of flowers are sent from the South.

One of the most noted and most unfortunate general commanders of the Union army, General Irvin McDowell, who had the misfortune to be in command at the disastrous battle of Bull Run, before the Union armies had been brought into military shape, was born in Franklin Township, and the house where he was born, a simple structure, long was pointed out. General McDowell was a scholarly man and a good soldier and it was his hard luck to be placed in a position where almost any man would have failed. After his failure, which was by many attributed to indifference of others, as well as to the undisciplined condition of his troops, he served the nation faithfully and well, and died in San Francisco in 1885, a retired major general on the United States army list.

The history of Franklin Townhip is largely made up of the history of Franklinton, the first settlement. Here Lucas Sullivant came with his band of pioneers, said to consist of twenty men, although even the names of some of them have vanished. However, the following are known to have been members of that party: Joseph Connor, Joseph Lewis, John Ellis, Robert Dixon, James McClure. Edward Walden, Samuel Robinson, Andrew Chew, John Florence and John Hynaman.

When Sullivant opened the sale of lots in his new town, the buyers unwittingly enrolled themselves as founders of the First Families of Franklinton. In the order in which they made their purchases, they were: James Robinson, William Trimble, John Boyd, John Woolcutt, William Johnson, Noble Crawford, George Skidmore, John Lysle, Adam Hosack, Robert Armstrong, William Domigan, Isaac Claypool, John Mitchell, John Brittle, Joseph Vance, Michael Fisher, Samuel Finley, William Clearey, Andrew Rolston, John Edmiston, Hugh Montgomery, Elijah Chemoweth, William Dunlop, Morris Brown, John Blair, Jacob King, Michael Stroup, William West and William Armstrong.

The famous botanist, William S. Sullivant, occupied a beautiful residence at the head of an avenue of fine elm trees on the brow of the hill near where now stands the main building of the Central Insane Asylum. The asylum grounds originally belonged to the Sullivants. Samuel White, a veteran of the American Revolution, in which he fought for nearly seven years, was one of the early settlers of Franklin township. He lived to an advanced age and finally was killed by a runaway horse. There was a tradition that at the battle of Stony Point he was scalped by the Indians.

The first tavern was built on the National Road, not yet known by that name, by Joseph Foss, in 1803. It was built of brick and attracted much attention on that account. Mr. Foss was a prominent man, serving twenty years in the Legislature and being a brigadier general in the War of 1812 and later a major general in the militia. The first cemetery was on the banks of the Scioto River and there most of the pioneers were buried. Attention to its neglected condition was recently called and steps were taken to care for the few graves that were left.

The first meeting house was built by the Methodists in the twenties. It was of logs, but was later replaced by a brick building.

Probably the first merchant in the township was Robert Russell, who began business in 1803 with a stock of dry goods and assorted general supplies. His store room had been erected originally for a smoke house, and its economical size permitted an arrangement of shelves, all within easy reach of a central table, at which the proprietor sat and was able to handle and sell his wares without rising from his seat. No successor in the county has been able to work out a sales department of greater efficiency or lower cost of operation.

The first school was a log cabin on what is now Gift Street, and the first teacher was an Irishman who was frequently found to be in his cups. As he was inclined to be cruel when in that condition he was finally discharged by the parents of the pupils.

The first physician in the township and therefore in the county was Dr. Lincoln Goodale, whose name is so closely interwoven with the early history of the county and is still commemorated in Goodale Park, which he presented to the city.

The later history of Franklin Township merges into that of the city of Columbus, but it still retains its township organization. It is bounded on the north by Norwich, Perry and Clinton Townships, on the east by the city of Columbus and the Scioto River, on the south by Jackson Township and on the west by Prairie Township.


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