History of Washington Township, Franklin County OH

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


Washington Township occupies the northwestern corner of Franklin County. It is bounded on the west and north by Union and Delaware Counties, on the east by the line of the Scioto River and on the south by Brown and Norwich Townships. It was set off and organized in 1809, being parts of the original townships of Liberty, Franklin and Darby and including all of what are now Perry and Norwich and a part of Brown Township. Its present proportions were finally established in 1820. The first settlement was made on the site of the village of Dublin, which is situated on the west bank of the Scioto River, on a road running directly west from Worthington. The road which runs through the village north and south is the outgrowth of an ancient Indian trail running from the Indian village at Upper Sandusky down the Scioto River to Franklinton. Until the sentiment for good roads changed its character it was through most of the township rather rough, the surface being cut up by gullies running to the river, but it had a foundation of limestone and was seldom muddy. The road is now a beautiful highway, a favored driveway from the city of Columbus. The township is cut by but one railroad, the Toledo and Ohio Central, which traverses it from about the middle of the south to the middle of the west boundary line. This district has always, however, been closely connected with the capital city through omnibus service. It has never had a suburban electric railway.

Bluffs and hills of considerable sight border the streams which run through the township to empty into the Scioto, principal of which is Indian Big Run, and the scenic effects of these diversities of surface give the district an attractive appearance, besides offering the more utilitarian advantage of specially good facilities for orchard cultivation. This has been taken advantage of and the rougher parts of the township have been converted largely into profitable fruit bearing districts. Most of the township, however, is level and very fertile. Some of the best developed farms and handsomest farm houses in Franklin County are to be found in Washington Township.

At the southeastern corner of the township is one of the most picturesque spots in Ohio, Hayden Falls, about ten miles northwest of Columbus. The rock formation is of limestone, and Hayden Run, about 100 rods west of its outlet into the Scioto, has worn through the stone and formed a cataract which has a perpendicular fall of sixty feet. As the spot is easy of access from the city, lying between the Scioto River and the Dublin Pike, Hayden Falls is a popular place of resort for picnickers.

It was in Washington Township that the famous execution of Leatherlips, a Wyandotte Indian chief, occurred. The cause of the execution is a mystery, although there is very good authority for the belief that it was ordered by the famous Prophet, brother of Tecumseh, because of Leatherlips friendship for the whites and his opposition to the war against them that was being preached by the two able brothers. General William Henry Harrison entertained the opinion that the party which executed the old chief went directly from Tippecanoe to the banks of the Scioto, where the tragedy occurred. The explanation was given by some Indians that Leatherlips was supposed to be guilty of witchcraft. The execution was witnessed by some white men, who tried to intervene to save the old man's life, but, as Leatherlips himself seemed to accept the situation and made no objections to the carrying out of the sentence, their efforts were unavailing. In memory of this friend of the white race the Wyandotte Club, a social organization of Columbus, some years ago arranged for the erection of a monument at the scene of the execution.

The village of Dublin, which at the census of 1930 had a population of 224, was settled very soon after Franklinton, among the first inhabitants being Ludwick Sells and his four sons from Pennsylvania, George Ebey, Alexander Bassett, Augustus Miller, James Hoey, John Wyandt, James Slosson, Jacob King and Jacob Sladle. They were followed in a short time by the ancestors of the Tullers, the Davises, the Grahams and other families prominent in the community. From the Sells family sprang the brothers who, as proprietors of the Sells Brothers circus, became known throughout America, Australia and the continent of Europe. The town itself was laid out by John Shields, a gentleman of Irish extraction, who gave it the name of his native city and was the founder of a family prominent in Franklin County.

Joab Hayden, one of the early settlers of the township, was a famous man in his day. He took a farm on Hayden Run, which was named after him, and soon attracted attention by his daring and dangerous exploits. He was either very lucky or very skillful. As he was a jack at all trades and seems to have been an adept in all, his long life was probably due to his skill rather than to his luck. It was recorded of him that, on the occasion of a trip taken by him to the Kanawha salt works, whither it was necessary to go for a supply of salt, he won a barrel of salt by climbing a very high tree and standing on his head on a limb of the tree nearly 100 feet from the ground. He found no takers when he offered to bet another barrel of salt that he could fall into the river, remain there a certain time without effort to save himself and then come out alive.

Samuel Sells bought a farm in the township and moved there in 1909. A large body of Indians made a habit of camping on his land, but, as they were friendly to the white and many of them, under the noted warrior, Captain Tuttle, enlisted under General Harrison for the War of 1812, they were permitted to remain in peace

While, isolated from the centers of traffic, trade and manufacture never flourished to a great degree in Washington, there were early and at the time successful efforts to establish small manufacturing concerns. The postoffice at Dublin had been established for twelve years when John Swain bought a mill site on the Scioto River. He put up an oil mill and afterward added to his equipment a carding machine and a cloth fulling machine. This business he conducted until 1855, when he sold out to Lorenzo Holcomb, who changed the structure into a flour mill. This mill could be seen, a picturesque sight, until a very few years ago. Holcomb Tuller, one of the early members of that family which has been so prominent in the affairs of the county, built an ashery in Dublin in 1840. He made black salts and saleratus, sending his products for sale to Cincinnati and conducting a profitable business. Blacksmith shops were early established by Edward Eberly and the versatile Joab Hayden. The latter also was a beehunter of note, being able to "line" a wild honeybee to its hive in some hollow tree and always having on hand a stock of honey for sale at the larger settlements. A sawmill was built on Indian Run in 1818 by Henry Shout. The country was covered with a forest of oak, beech, maple, hickory, walnut, ash, elm and other trees of less value, and the Shout mill was kept busy turning out lumber that was floated down the river to Franklinton and later to Columbus. Products of the mills and farms were shipped by river to much greater distances at that time. In the spring of 1821 John Sells started for New Orleans from Dublin in a flat bottomed boat loaded with 500 barrels of flour and great quantities of bacon. He was accompanied by Enoch Evans, Abraham Sells, John Sells, Moses Davis and Fletcher Sells. Most of the settlers did not believe it possible for the boat, which was sixteen feet wide and sixty feet long, to negotiate the dams, which were quite numerous in the Scioto at that distant day. The Argonauts of the expedition selected a time when the spring floods were at their height and succeeded in shooting the dams. They adopted the plan of crowding into the extreme stern of the boat and thus lifting the bow as they approached a dam and had no serious difficulty even at the Marble Cliff Mills, where the dam was seven feet high. The cargo was sold at Maysville, Kentucky.

The early settlers had one or two causeless scares from the Indians, but never experienced any serious perils at the hands of the original settlers. In fact, they saw a great deal of them, as the Indians passed frequently along the old Upper Sandusky trail, now the Dublin Pike, and traded extensively with the whites. The township has never grown in commercial importance, but remains a strictly agricultural community. In that respect and socially it stands very high. The beautiful cemetery just west of Dublin contains monuments on which are calved names of men and women prominent in the life of the county. Among those silent citizens are veterans of all the wars of the United States, from the American Revolution to the World War.

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