History of Norwich Township, Franklin County OH

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


Norwich Township still generally out of the way of metropolitan development is for the most part a typical rural district of high character. It was laid out and organized under its present name in 1813, but it included until 1820 the southern part of what is now Perry Township. Norwich is bounded on the north by Washington Township, on the east by the Scioto River, which divides it from Perry Township, on the south by Franklin and Prairie Townships and on the west by Brown Township. On the east it faces the beautiful stretch of the Scioto River above the first storage dam constructed by the city of Columbus, and on that side alone is threatened by urban growth. In the southeastern corner of the township, as well as in the extreme northeastern portion of the adjoining township of Franklin, and extending for several miles up the west side of the Scioto River, is the enormous plant of the Marble Cliffs Quarries Company, which employs hundreds of men and furnishes material of all sorts made from the heavy limestone deposits of that section. With the single exception of cement, these products include all that are possible to be made from limestone, and it is said that all the ingredients for the making of cement are to be found there. It is also said to be probable that the company's operations will in the not far future be extended to the manufacture of that great staple of modern construction. The common labor and some of the skilled labor of the quarries are performed for the most part by Italians, who form a large community in this district.

Norwich Township was first settled in 1807, the first pioneer being Daniel Brunk. He was soon followed by Rev. Benjamin Britton, a "New Light" preacher, who founded a church in a log cabin. The congregation, after a few years of struggling, disbanded and joined a congregation at Dublin. Other early settlers were Isaac Grace, George Rager, Peter Latimer, Samuel Davis, Ephraim Fisher, William Armistead, Asa Wilcox, Robert Elliott, Henry McCracken, Moses Hart, Harmon Groom, Martin Miller, Francis Wilcox, Samuel King, John Laird, John Van Schoyck, Daniel Roberts, John McCann, Ezekiel Lattimer, William Watts, Samuel Paxton, David Thomas, David Smiley, Edmund Warren, Isaac Davidson, Abraham Sells, Jonathan Charles Peyton, Apollos Rogers, Daniel Avery and the Hoppers, Everetts and Cutlers.

Samuel Davis planted the first orchard in the township. His descendants are now to be found in the neighborhood of Dublin, in

Washington, the next township north, and one of them, also a Samuel Davis, has long been active in the Democratic politics of the kind and has filled many public positions, his latest being in the office of the auditor of Franklin County. The first efforts toward manufacturing were, as usual among pioneers, along the line of sawmills and gristmills, the first saw mill being built by Samuel Cox and the first gristmill by Joseph Corbin.

The banks of the Scioto, in what is now Norwich Township, were a favorite camping place of the Wyandotte Indians. The famous old chief, Crane, long camped every year on the farm of Abraham Sells and the memory of his tribe was long kept alive by the Wyandotte Club, an exclusive social organization of Columbus, which had a park on the west bank of the Scioto in Norwich. The original Samuel Davis of the settlers was on terms of close intimacy with the Indians, knowing their language and their habits almost as well as one of that race. He was born in Connecticut and served in the Revolutionary War, during which he became an adept in scout service. At the close of the Revolution he migrated to the wilder country of Kentucky, where he served as a scout under the famous Indian hunter, Simon Kenton, whose grave is still kept green in this state. At one time Mr. Davis was captured, with a companion, by the Indians, but by a ruse made his escape. He and General McArthur, afterwards governor of Ohio, were at one time associated as hunters for the infant colony. He was a silversmith, a blacksmith and a gunsmith and in all three capacities was a useful man to the immigrants.

Although the Piqua division of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Toledo and Ohio Central Railroad pass through the township, it has but one incorporated village, Hilliard, situated on the Pennsylvania Railroad in the northwestern part of the township. The village was laid out in 1853 by John R. Hilliard on his farm in view of the proposed building of the railroad, but was not incorporated until 1869, the first mayor being John R. L. Seegur.

Norwich Township has from the first been rich in churches and has had excellent schools. The first congregation was formed by Methodists, who have always been strong in the section, the church at Hilliard having as far back as 1876 a membership of more than 300. Other churches which were organized early in the history of the township were the Evangelical Lutheran, the United Brethren and the Disciples.

The advance of civilization cut off at least one resource that was a delight of the pioneers. The Scioto River, before the construction of dams made it impossible for them to make their runs upstream, teemed with yellow salmon, which found a favorite feeding ground on the Norwich Township frontage of the Scioto River. The stream there is fed with innumerable springs welling up from the river bottom and the water was always peculiarly clear and fresh at this point.

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