History of Big Spring Township, OH
From: The History of Seneca County, Ohio
From the close of the war to July 1880
By: W. Lang
Published By: Transcript Printing Co., Springfield, Ohio, 1880

T. 1, N. R. 13 E.

THIS township was organized March 6th, 1833, and received its name from the big spring of water in the southwest part of the township. The first election was held April 4, 1833, and the following were the officers chosen, viz:

Trustees - E. Bogart and Richard Reynolds.
Clerk - William Brayton.
Treasurer - Hugh Mutholland.
Fence Viewers - Cornelius Bogart, Andrew Springer and Joshua Watson.
Overseers of the Poor - Elijah Brayton and Charles Henderson.
Constable - Austin Knowlton.

Mr. Knowlton is still living, and while he enjoys good health in his old age, is a very pleasant, congenial gentleman. The others of those officers are all dead, I think.

In 1840 the township had a population of 925; in 1870 there were 2,224; in 1880 it is 2,048. The above named officers and John Peer, Hiram Bogart, Ph. Peer, J. Luzader, the Young family, the Stiles, and others, were among the early settlers.

It will be noticed that the first settlers were American born and no German name is found among them. From 1833 to 1842 a very large number of German and French families came on, and after Mr. Anthony Schindler bought land and located in section twelve, many of his old neighbors from Germany settled round about him. Here he laid out a town and named it after his native town in Germany, New Reigel. The old German settlers were Anthony and Carl Schindler, Joseph Biscliof, Joseph, Stephan and Landelin Brosamer, Jacob Kabele, Michael Schon, Nicholas Pen, Nicholas and Francis Eltig, Peter Rinehart, Michael Wolly, Nicholas and Francis Etchen, John Wagner, Ignatz Lehnhart, M. Schlachter, John Moes, Joseph Ries, the Kern family, the Dannenhoeffers, the Schiraks, the Seibenalers, and others. Among the French families were the Lafontaines, the Filliatres, the Wernements, F. Collet, J. Mangett, the Gilliaumes, and others.

William Tempelman was an original sort of a character.

My esteemed old friend, Theodore M. Frink must not be overlooked and a short sketch of his life will be found below.

Charles Schindler moved upon the land where he now lives in 1835. He bought a cast iron stove from one Jacob Alexy, in Loudon township about three miles north of where he lives. He started with his team and George Wehrle to get the stove, very early one morning, and after the stove was loaded on the wagon, they had a very slow drive with their ox team through the swales. They stalled many times and when they reached the cabin of Mr. Lafontaine, it was pitch dark and they had to stay all night. They reached home near noon next day. Charles Schindler was born in Hechnigen, Baden, in 1805.

The Lawheads, the Bouchers, the Flicks and others were also among the early settlers.

The Germans will soon own the whole township. They have everything. their own way now to a very great extent, buying out all their old American neighbors and turning Big Spring into one of the most wealthy and prosperous townships in the county.

Elijah Brayton, in 1825, lived in Crawford county, which then included. Wyandot, and soon after moved to this township. In that year, on the 20th of September, he lost a little boy, then about eight years old, in the following manner, viz: The child had followed an older brother and a neighbor, who were looking for cattle that were missing, and the little fellow was sent back to the house. He followed the path that had been pointed out to him and was never heard of again. Upon the return of the others, the alarm was given throughout the neighborhood and everybody turned out, even the Indians, and scoured the country far and wide, but without any clue to the missing boy.

During this search Neal McGaffey. of Fort Ball, the first clerk of the court of common pleas, and some others, camped all night on the spot that was afterwards included in the town of Risdon and which is now in Fostoria.

The town of Springville was surveyed by David Risdon in 1834 for Benjamin and John Jenkins, proprietors. The town never grew much. The spring was once a very powerful one and formed a small lake. The water was very deep, clear and cold. Since the country has been cleared up, the spring has lost much of its former celebrity and would now be noticed no more than any good spring on a farm.

The town of Oregon (now Adrian) was surveyed by R. M. Shoemaker, on the 17th of February, 1844, on sections and 36, on the Mad River & Lake Erie, now the Cleveland, Sandusky & Cincinnati railroad. Erastus H. Cook and D. C. Henderson were the proprietors. Eli Gehr, Adam Vetter, John Gants and Charles Foster were the first settlers here. The town grew up to its present size within a few years after it was laid out, and stood there ever since.

Anthony Schindler, who laid out New Reigel, was a very active, lively and enterprising man. Very soon after the laying out of this town, people settled in and around the town, and put up a log church, which in time gave way to a brick church, and that in its turn to one of the largest and most beautiful Catholic churches in northern Ohio.

The town of New Reigel is now settled up by farmers who have become wealthy, and wish to spend their last days at their ease near the church, and a brotherhood and sisterhood of the 'Society of the Precious Blood," who own very large tracts of land near the town. The sisters officiate as teachers of the youth. Father M. Sales Brunner was the founder of this order, and the first priest in New Reigel. There are about sixty persons in the nunnery at New Reigel at the present time.

The land in Big Spring is very rich, and when the prairie in the southwestern part shall be thoroughly drained, as efforts to that end are now being made, Big Spring will be the rich garden spot of the county.

There is a stony ridge in the southern part of the township.

Among the early settlers should also be mentioned the Boucher families, Peter Lantz, Isaac Dewitt, Frederick Waggoner, Ira Taft, William Blue, Israel Harinas, W. Burgess, Peter Wanner, M. Clark, Louis Schany, William Clark, E. H. Cook, E. Brayton, the Jenkins', Joseph Clapper, John Ellerton, Henry Nulholland and C. Woolford.


Settled in the woods about half way between Springville and New Reigel, in the spring of 1833. He came from near Canal Dover, where he hired a four hprse team to bring him here It took him three weeks to get here, and the few inhabitants of Springville were about one half whites, and the others Indians. Here Mr. Young met a man whom he once knew in Stark county, by the name of Jacob Gwyer who offered to pilot Young to his land, and said he lived near Springville, and pretended that he had to go home first to get the number of the section: but instead of going he lingered around, and was seen several times peeping into the big wagon, no doubt watching for a chance to get into the big chest. When Mr. Young told him that it was time to get the map, he went away and never returned, but was seen by some hunters sneaking around the camp the following night, dressed in an Indian costume.

On the next day Mr. Young moved out onto his land, where the family was left in the woods, and the teamster returned to Jenkins' to feed Jenkins kept a sort of trading post at the Spring. To get onto the land was no small job. There was no road that way, and the swales were full of water. Night overtook them before the land was reached. They unhitched, cut some wild grass for the horses, and ate and slept in the wagon. Mr. Young's family consisted of himself, his wife and three small boys. His father and his wife's brother came out here with him to see him get started. in the woods.

At night the men took turn about in watching. They kept up a large fire, and had a Newfoundland dog with them, who saved their lives, as will soon appear. On the next day they reached the land, about two o'clock, where they hastily unloaded, to give the teamster time to return to Springville to feed his starving horses. The men then put up a very temporary shanty by planting four forks into the ground, upon which poles were laid, and covered with clapboards in a very rude manner. This "Grand Hotel de Young" answered the purpose about ten days, when the other house was ready to move into.

Just as the family were about to retire on the first night in this shanty, the big dog sprang out into the darkness, barking very fiercely. He saw a man, and would have taken hold of him had not Mr. Young. called Shim away. Mr. Young thought it was some hunter or friendly Indian that wanted to see the new corners, but the man walked away, and Mr. Young concluded that it was Gwyer. Mr. Young's horse was let loose, and the cow was driven away that night. This created the fear in Mr. Young's mind that this plan would make the men run after the lost animals next day, and give the villain an opportunity to rob the shanty. There was no money in it, however, for Mr. Young had used it about all to pay for his land. Gwyer some time afterwards confessed the whole plan. The men were on the lookout, and kept themselves well armed.

This Jacob Gwyer was afterwards arrested for murdering a man named Boyd, near Bucyrus. When his arrest took place in Detroit, he confessed the murder and several robberies, for which he had never been Named; also his attempt to rob Samuel Young. Before the day arrived for the execution, he and three horse thieves made their escape to Ohio, and Gwyer was re arrested near Dayton, where his wife lived. While there in prison he cut his throat with a knife.

Samuel Young was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, kugust 13th 1794. He was a cooper by trade. He married Isabella Sutton, November 17th 1818. He was five feet six inches high, had black hair and deep blue eyes, light complexion short stubby nose, small mouth and chin, and was rather delicate in his features. He spoke some German, and was always very lively in conversation. He was a pleasant and peaceable man and esteemed for his good qualities and christian bearing. He served on juries often and refused several times, to serve as a township officer. He died many years ago. Mrs. Young is still living at her home in Adrian. She is now 78 years old and enjoys the love and respect of all her neighbors and especially that of her children and grandchildren, who annually gather around her with their smiles and congratulations.

Mr. Young was 63 years old when he died here in 1859.

Mrs. Young was born December 31, 1802, and enjoys very good health for a lady of her age. She is the mother of ten children.

In those early days a large family was a pride and a glory. The sin and crime of avoiding to have a family, are the children of these later days; sins and crimes that are not punished by law, and against which the church shuts both eyes, but the victims may be counted by the thousands.

What will the world come to when this dreadful crime reaches the masses and religion fails in her mission to save?


Among the few native Americans that live near New Reigel and have not yet sold out to the Germans is Theodore M. Frink, Esq., the subject of this sketch.

He was born in West Springfield, Hamden county, Massachusetts, at a place where Holyoke City now stands, on the south bank of the Connecticut river. When about years old he moved with his father to Northampton. On the 25th of April, 1832 he was married to Miss Sabeah Torry, and in May, 1836, he started with his family for the west. For want of any better conveyance they took a canal boat at West Troy for Buffalo, and from there they came by steamer to Cleveland and then made their way to Ravenna, Portage county, where a brother of his wife then lived. This brother in law, Torry, had a son living in Tymochtee, who had come home on a visit. With him Squire Frink came west in October of that year and bought the land where he still resides. This took about all the money he had, and he made his way back to Ravenna, one hundred and fifty miles, on foot. In January following he bought a yoke of oxen, made a sled, put his wife and goods upon it and started for Big Spring. Here he opened a farm, where he is now comfortably situated. During all this time he has enjoyed the respect and esteem of the good people of Big Spring to such an extent that for eight years he served them as a trustee, and as justice of the peace ever since 1848. What better proof can be required of his good report among his neighbors? There is no man living in the township who stands better in the esteem of its citizens than Squire Frink. His good counsel is sought daily and he has saved many litigations by his good advice. His first wife died on the 3d of February, 1855. He was married to his present wife July 3, I862. The Squire remains among his neighbors as one of the olden school, and as the years increase, the esteem of the people for his white head grows in proportion.

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