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


ON March 1, 1841, the commissioners of Lucas county organized the township of Fulton by taking from Amboy township fractional township number ten south, range four east, and from Swan Creek township fractional township eight north, range eight east, and the north tier of sections from townships seven north, range eight east; and the township so existed until the year 1846. Then, at a meeting of the board of commissioners of Lucas county, held at Maumee, June 2, 1846, upon the petition of many residents of Fulton township, it was ordered that the south tier of sections in township nine south, range four east, be taken from Amboy and attached to Fulton township, so that Fulton township at present contains thirty sections, including the six fractional sections of town ten south, range four east, north of the Fulton line.

The great water drainage of this township is to the south and southeast by the way of Swan creek, which stream receives nearly all the tributary streams of the entire township, and are emptied by said creek into the Maumee at the city of Toledo. Swan creek has its rise from the iow prairie lands in the extreme northwest corner of the township, and running in an easterly by southeasterly course across the township, south some few rods west of Swanton; and at this place it becomes quite a stream of water, which in the days before steam, was utilized as the motive power for machinery.

Fulton township is an unusually level tract with, in the north part, clay, and in the south part sand slightly mixed with gravel, and the whole underlaid with a clay subsoil. The average depth of the deposit upon this territory is about eighty feet, perhaps less in the southeast. Water is generally obtained from a gravel bed resting directly on the rock. From the northeastern part of the township, crossing from Amboy township is what in geology is termed a second beach, composed of a coarse sand and, in some places, gravel deposit good for roads. Its course is southwest, passing through Ai, a small village, and out of the township just north of Delta on the Lake Shore railroad in York township.

The township was originally covered with excellent timber, and was one of the finest hunting grounds in the county. Game of all kinds known in the country was here to be found in almost exhaustless supply. The heavy growth of timber afforded ample cover and protection, and many are the "bear stories" and daring feats of frontier life remembered of the early pioneers of Fulton. They were brought in daily contact with bears, wolves, wild cats and panthers, and these were formidable enemies to the young domestic animals about the settlers' cabins, as well as dangerous companions in the lonely wilderness. Deer and wild turkeys were also to be found in great numbers, and these, with an occasional "bear steak," furnished the principal meat supply, to which the epicurean of to-day would have no occasion to object. Venomous reptiles, and especially the dreaded rattlesnake, were among the enemies of modern civilization, and these added their share to the discomforts and perils of pioneer life.

The settlement of the township began under the same discouraging circumstances which prevails everywhere in districts remote from the natural thoroughfares. The meager supplies of actual necessities had to be brought long distances, through trackless forests, infested with dangerous opponents of civilization. The packhorse was the faithful friend who was the means of connecting the pioneers with the outside world, carrying to them the few articles of commerce which this simple mode of living demanded. Ammunition, meal and salt were the three articles most required, but the first was always an absolute necessity. The periodical trips to the "base of supplies" were always fraught with peril, both to the trayelers who made them and to the helpless and defenseless ones who were left behind. Several days were ofttimes required to go and return with a cargo of supplies.

The first settler of the township was John W. Harter, who located with his family of five members in the southeastern part, in May, 1834, and established his home about two miles from the present site of Swanton. The Harters came from Huron county, Ohio, and built a rude log cabin in the Fulton township wilds, chinking the same with mortar of mud, and covering it with a roof of bark. The cabin was probably not larger than 18X20 feet; was built in such a hurry and with such a lack of assistance that the logs were but little better than poles; and was graced with a very large chimney made of sticks and clay, that was peculiarly ornamental as well as useful. The architectural design is thus mentioned in detail, as the building was the finest in the township; and it is reasonable to conclude, judging from ordinary human emotion and character, that Mr. Harter was the proudest, as well as the wealthiest resident. A wellpopulated temporary encampment of native North Americans was standing on the west bank of Swan creek at this time; and these nomadic people were, perhaps, Mr. Harter's nearest neighbors - nearest, in that they visited his humble abode more than occasionally, and remained with him longer than necessary, as the wants of these humble denizens of the woods led their natures to covet almost everything of value in the white man's possession. They were mild, but importunate, and took evasion or negation to their demands with all the admirable imperturbability that is usually ascribed as a mental endowment of that product of modern civilization-the tramp. But, withal, they were interesting, if not pleasant, neighbors, as the family of Mr. Harter had ample proof.

In the fall of 1834 and spring of 1835, there was a large immigration to the Six Mile Woods, or now in Fulton township. Among those who came during that fall were John J. Teachworth and his family; Henry Lake and his family, a wife and five children; Alexander Boyd, who died in 1837, and the first person laid in the Ai cemetery; he left a widow, two sons and one daughter. Charles Welch came with a wife and large family of boys, and the forest by them was soon converted into splendid wheat fields. Welch was successful, and died in 1878, in Amboy township. Daniel Q. Berry settled here in 1836, with his wife and seven boys. He was a native of New Jersey, but came from New York to Fulton township, and settled in town ten south, range four east, where he died in 1844, his widow surviving him some sixteen years only. Abraham Willcox came from the State of Connecticut in 1835, and settled in township ten south, range four east (Michigan survey), where he continued to reside until his death, in 1852. Ezra A. Willcox came about the same time as his brother, and was the first peddler in the township, supplying the early settlers with clocks made in Connecticut.

Rev. John Shaw came in 1834, and settled on the east half of the northeast quarter of section ten, town ten south, range four east; but he left in the latter part of 1835. George Black came in 1834, but in 1844 moved to Stone Ridge (now Whitehouse), Lucas county. Judge Thatcher settled here in the fall of 1834, and served several years as trustee; but he moved back to Connecticut in 1866, and died there.

Alexander Vaughn moved from Holmes county, Ohio, in the spring of 1835, on section three, in town ten south, range four east. He was a Pennsylvanian by birth, being a native of Westmoreland county, but, at the age of eighteen years, he came to Holmes county, this State, and from thence to Fulton, as stated above. He died in the year 1847. Jacob Hamp moved from Holmes county, Ohio, in 1835, with a wife and five boys, two of the latter being soldiers in the Civil war. Jacob Hamp died in 1850, and his wife survived him until she was one hundred and seven years old.

Peter Broadsword settled here in 1834, on section ten, town ten south, range four east.

Gideon W. Raymond settled on section thirty-two, town eight north, range eight east, in 1834. He was justice of the peace for several years, and taught school in the first schoolhouse in the Clark district in 1837, afterwards teaching the Ai school some four years. Isaac Day was living in the city of Utica, State of New York, and having lost by death his wife and infant son, he determined on trying his fortune in the wilds of Ohio. On September 14, 1834, leaving his only daughter with his deceased wife's most intimate friends, he started for Ohio, and on his arrival bought a piece of land on section fifteen, in the present Swan Creek township. That fall he put up a log cabin, and with his hoe planted one-half acre of wheat. He remained there that winter, and in the spring of 1835. he planted his garden and put in other crops, so that in August he was able to have ripe melons, green corn, cabbage and cucumbers. On October 10, following, John Nobbs, with his wife and three children, started for Ohio, bringing with them Isaac Day's daughter; also John Day, his wife and three sons and one daughter. They arrived at the cabin of Isaac Day, October 20, 1835, a glad day for father and child. Isaac Day soon left the place he first settled upon and located on section thirty-three, town nine south, range four east. John Nobbs and John Day settled upon the same section. John Day's family being the largest, they put up his cabin first, then the cabin of John Nobbs, but, in November, death entered the latter's family and claimed a son. On January 25, 1836, John Nobbs and family moved into their log house, Isaac Day and daughter with them. In September, 1837, John Day sickened and died, and there being no undertaker within a long distance, kind neighbors united and made a coffin, and near and dear ones kindly laid him away.

William Stair settled on section thirty-five, and continued to reside there till his death, in 1850.

Ami Richards came from the State of Connecticut, in 1836, and settled on section nine, town ten south, range four east. He served as treasurer of the township for many years. Mr. Richards was a lover of books, and his library was always well supplied with the best of the age. He died in 1883, at his homestead, leaving a widow, two sons and four daughters, one of the latter being the wife of James Harrison, Jr.

Shubal Nixon settled here in 1835, and Joseph Babcock came the same year. The latter was a school teacher of extraordinary ability and taught in the first schoolhouse built in the township. He died in 1868.

Samuel Durgin, with his family, consisting of a wife and two daughters, came from the State of New Hampshire, in 1837, and settled upon section six, town ten south. range four east. He was justice of the peace up to 1850, when he was appointed clerk of Fulton county at its organization, and was afterwards elected by the people for a term of three years. In 1853, he was elected to the legislature of Ohio, and was a member of the lower house for two years, taking his seat in January, 1854. He taught the Ai school for a series of years, and for a long time was county school examiner. In 1863, he was again elected clerk of the court, and at the end of a three years' term he moved to Wauseon, where he died, about 1873.

Samuel Dowling came from Trumbull county, this State, formerly from Ireland. and settled on section three, town ten south, range four east, in 1838. He continued to reside there until his death, in 1883.

Martin and Emery Wilson, brothers, settled in this township in 1843.

Charles V. Merrill and family came from the State of Maine, in 1837, and settled on section four, town ten south. range four east. He was a minister of the Christian Church, the first in the township. and was very zealous, holding meetings at the different cabins of the early settlers, and at log schoolhouses. His work extended intothe different townships and so continued until his death.

Jonathan Wood, with his family, settled here in 1838. He was a great educator among the young pioneers and a strong adherent of the Presbyterian church, being a fine Sabbath school organizer, also. Mr. Wood was clerk of the township from its organization until 1854. He rendered good service as nurse in the hospitals of the army, carefully attending the sick and wounded. He died in

David Springer also came from the State of Maine to Maumee, in 1836, and settled on section four, town ten south, four east, where he died in 1866.

Robert Pennel settled here in 1836.

Levi Merrill, with his family, came from the State of Maine, in 1838, and settled on section four, town ten south, four east, and there lived until his death, in i88i, his wife dying some nine years before.

Clement Canfield settled here in 1838.

Hartman Canfield and family settled here in 1838, on section thirty-three, in town eight north, range eight east. He was a very useful man in the community-always a good nurse and caring for the wants of the sick. He died in 1871, and left four children, two boys and two girls.

John Viers, with his family, settled on section five, town seven north, range eight east (Ohio survey), in 1834, and continued to reside there till his death, July 2, 1873. Mr. Viers was a native of Jefferson county, Ohio.

Robert Watkins settled on section three, town seven north, range eight east, in 1835, and died in 1881. He was a native of Maine.

Isaac Fauble settled on section five, town seven north, range eight east, in 1841, and died there many years ago. He was born in Wayne county, Ohio.

Joseph Dennis settled on section one, town ten south, range four east, in 1835, and die(l at his daughter's, Mrs. Russell Bartlett, in Amboy township, in 1885.

Africa Spaulding settled on section two, town seven north, range eight east, in 1835, and died in 1881. He was a native of Maine.

William H. Harris settled on section four, town seven north, range eight east, in 1835. He is supposed to have been murdered' in 1837.

Hiram Clark settled here in 1835, and in 1843, sold to Thomas Watkins. Cyrus Clark settled here about the same time as his. brother Hiram.

Luther Dodge settled here on section number eleven, town ten south, range four east, at a very early day, on the farm afterwards owned by Horatio Witt. Mr. Witt was born in Dayton, Ohio, November 6, 1824, and came with his parents to Fulton county, in 1844. In 1852, he went to California, rounded Cape Horn and visited Brazil and Chili. He was wrecked on the home-bound trip. The Witt family is of German extraction, and the story of their migration to America is quite interesting. John Witt, father of Horatio, embarked from Hamburg, Germany, with his parents and a large company of relatives, for the United States. The relatives were separated, embarking on different vessels, both bound for Philadelphia, but they were separated in a storm at sea, and one landed in that city and the other at Charleston, South Carolina. Two brothers and their families were all that landed at Philadelphia, and the grandfather of Horatio was one of these. He and his wife died, soon after landing, of yellow fever, leaving two sons, Frederick and John, the latter being five years old and the former four. These children were taken to the "Big Valley," Chester county, Pennsylvania, and bound out, their father's property was squandered and they were entirely severed from all knowledge of their relatives. John Witt grew to manhood in Pennsylvania, then came to Ohio, and with his family settled in Fulton county, in 1844. Horatio Witt belonged to the One Hundred and Thirtieth regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, for 100 days during the war of 1861-5.

George W. Thompson settled here in 1836, but soon thereafter died.

Josiah W. Bartlett settled here in 1843, on the land afterwards owned by J. W. Deck; but he sold to Calvin Quiggle, in 1853. The latter engaged in the drug business and died in 1873.

James Fenton, a prominent and successful farmer, came into this township at a still later neriod of its history, 1847. John Fenton, a brother of James, came about the same time, and soon becamt the owner of the property, originally the homestead of Alexander Boyd.

The pioneer schools were early established in Fulton township, in 1836, the first schoolhouse - a rude log structure - being erected two or three miles northwest of the present site of Swanton, on land afterwards owned by L. Blake. This was before the township was organized and it was located where it was thought it would do the most good. The probability is that Miss Julia Chamberlain taught the first term of school in the township, though this is not certain. It is known that she taught in 1837, though it may be that she was not the first teacher. The township was divided into districts as it became more settled, and Miss Harriet O'Brien was an early teacher in them. Among the early teachers of the township were Miss Huldah Merrill, Luther Dodge, Miss Almeda Doughty, A. Sawyer, and others. There are eleven schools in the township at the present time, and they are in charge of a corps of specially qualified teachers, whose tenure of office is dependent upon their success in their chosen calling.

The primitive saw-mills of pioneer days were erected as necessity demanded, and, being inexpensive in construction, they were abandoned when neighborhood needs were supplied. In 1835, Nicholas Q. Berry built a saw-mill on Swan creek, a short distance from the present site of Swanton, securing a fall of sufficient depth by extending the race across a bend of the stream. In 1853, Michael Cline built a steam saw-mill, but after it had been in operation some three years it was destroyed by fire. Iram Strong built a steam saw-mill in 1852, about one mile north of Luke's Corners. Michael Krieger built another steam saw-mill in 1856, and Miles Hays built another, about 1860, a short distance north of Swanton.

The village of Swanton was laid out soon after the construction of the railroad through this section, but this was nearly twenty years after the first settlement on its site, and although it has never enjoyed or been cursed with a "boom," its growth has been steady, and the population should be judged by its quality rather than quantity. There are several well-stocked mercantile houses, hotels, liveries and mechanical shops. Swanton is a desirable trading point, and is sustained by an excellent farming community in Fulton and Lucas counties.

The first religious organization in Fulton township, which had. more than a nominal existence, was of the Presbyterian denomination, and was organized at the schoolhouse in Ai, not far from 1842. Rev. Gideon Johnson was the officiating clergyman. He soon formed a circuit, holding religious services at the Ai and Dodge schoolhouses in this, and at the Bartlett schoolhouse in Amboy township, also at the Parcher school house in Pike township. Jonathan Wood organized the first Sabbath school, and for a number of years superintended the same, at Ai.

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