History of Orange Township, Shelby County, Ohio
From: History of Shelby County, Ohio
and Representative Citizens
By: A. B C. Hitchcook, Sidney, Ohio
Published by Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co.
Chicago, Ill. 1913


Located in the southern part of the county, with its southern boundary touching Miami county, lies Orange township, which is one of the best improved sections of the county, the well tilled farms and general air of prevailing thrift giving evidence of successful agriculture. It has an area of about twenty three square miles and embraces parts of town 1 and 2, of range 12 and 13. Perry and Green townships lie along its eastern line and Clinton and Washington townships, separated from it by the Great Miami river, on the north and west.

Orange township was formed from Perry township. On September 13, 1819, the county commissioners, at their meeting held at Hardin, ordered that Perry township should be thus divided: a line running through the middle of the thirteenth range should have the southern division organized as a new township which should be called Orange, and that decision made Orange township include all the territory embraced within the present limits of Orange and Green townships. At a meeting held at Hardin by the commissioners, March 7, 1820, it was ordered that all that part of Orange township that is east of the west tier of sections in the second township of both ranges 12 and 13, be erected into a new township and that it should be given the name of Green.


The surface of Orange township is generally undulating and along the water courses somewhat broken and hilly. The soil is well adapted to the growing of grains and grasses, consisting of gravel and clay loam, while the gravel beds have supplied sufficient gravel for the construction of many miles of fine roads. Along the banks of the Great Miami river there is an abundance of limestone, which has been worked more or less at different times. This township is well watered, principally by the Great Miami river, on the north and west side, and additionally by Brush and Rush creeks. There are also numerous fine springs.


In 1806 the Cannon family located on section 16, this being the fist white settlement made within the present limits of Orange township. In the spring of 1809 came John Phillips and William Berry and in the fall of the same year came Daniel Valentine and Edward Jackson: Still others, who settled here prior to the War of 1812, were Thomas Young, Abram Glossmire, John Matthews, Luke Norris, John Gilbert ands Harman Dildine, and Judge Francis located here very soon after the close of the war. The first frame house was built by Wiliam Berry, who also erected the first flouring mill, and it is known that flour and meal came from this mill for General Harrison's troopers on their march to the NorthWest. This was the only mill within a radius of fifty miles. With the outbreak of the War of 1812, the settlers found that the heretofore friendly Indians had become hostile to the settlers and hence it was deemed advisable to build block houses in which the families could take shelter in case of a sudden alarm. One was accordingly built near the Berry mill and another on the farm of Edward Jackson, who later built the first brick house that was ever put up in Orange township. On March 17, 1812, the first white child was born in the settlement, Isaac Young, who lived to an advanced age.

Orange township people soon showed interest in education and religion, the first schoolhouse being built on the farm of Thomas Young. The earliest teachers were Joseph Rollands and James B. McKenney, while Edward Jackson opened his house for church purposes in 1815, services being held by an itinerant Methodist preacher, the Rev. John Furrow. Without question, he had a large and deeply interested congregation. Shortly afterward preaching followed at the home of Daniel Valentine, by Revs. John McNemer and Jacob Antrim.

United Brethren Church - The Valentines and the Youngs, prominent among the early settlers, had left, reluctantly, their old church connection when they came into this wilderness but very early began the organization of a United Brethren communion in the new settlement. The members of this faith were scattered but when the missionary preacher arrived he found a warm welcome and left with an assurance that the faith was not dead nor yet sleeping, only awaiting the time when the believers could assemble together and form the nucleus which, many yearns afterward, became the United Brethren church at Kirkwood. The early meetings were held at the houses of Daniel Valentine, Jacob Boyer and others until 1844, when a schoolhouse that had been erected on the present site of Kirkwood was utilized. In 1847 a frame edifice was constructed on the land of R. W. Valentine, and George Varvel was the name of the first preacher. It was used as a place of worship until 1876, when a more commodious church building costing $2,500 was put up at Kirkwood. The present pastor is Rev. Mayne, of Lockington.

Wesley Chapel - The Methodist Episcopal church early sent missionaries to visit the settlers in Orange township. In 1833 regular meetings were held in the private houses of the members of this faith, by Rev. Arza Brown, and in 1840 the society built a brick structure, near the Miami county line, which became known as Wesley Chapel. Among the early members of this society were Henry Rhodehamel and wife, Father Kerns and wife, and Jacob Fabler. and Amos Gray, with their families. This society did good Christian work in the community until a few years ago, when it disbanded.

Sparing Creek Baptist Church - The society originally known as the Salem church was organized as early as 1816. Like other struggling religious bodies its first meetings were held in private houses but later a log house was built on Spring creek and services we're held there, the membership including the pioneer families of the neighborhood and also some from Piqua. As the society grew it was found desirable to have separate church bodies and in August, 1840, measures were taken for the organization of the Spring Creek Baptist church, the first pastor being Elder Eaton and the second, Elder Fuson. During the latter's pastorate a church edifice was erected. A numbers of pious and zealous elders succeeded. In 1867, during the pastorate of Elder Daniel Bryant, a new church was built, it being located north of the Shelby and Miami company's line on a lot presented to the society by John F. Hetzler, in which services were subsequently held. This church has maintained its organization up to the present time, its present pastor being Rev. John T. Young.


The following is a list of the justices of the peace who have served 'in Orange township from 1819 until 1912:

John Francis, 1819-22-31. John W. Valentine, 1832. Lewis Cooper, 1834. J. W. Valentine, April 4, 1835. Sexton Mount, December 8. 1836. John V. Higgins, November 18, 1837. John H. Wykoff, April 16, 1840. W. A. Carey, November 9, 1840. J. H. Wykoff, April 11, 1843. W. A. Carey, October 25, 1843. J. H. Wykoff, April 22, 1846. William M. Mendenhall, October 24, 1846. W. A. Carey, December 18, 1847. W. A. Carey, April 14, 1854. William Shinn, Jr., February 23, 1855. Lewis Cooper, April 15, 1858. D. Buchanan, April 7, 1860. R. P. Higgins, April 22, 1861. W. A. Carey, April 17, 1863. R. P. Higgins, April 23, 1864. W. A. Carey; April I1, 1866. R. P. Higgins, April 5, 1867. W. A. Carey, April 12, 1869. J. B. Brading, April 8, 1870. W. A. Carey, April 5, 1872. Christopher Hetzler, April 11, 1873. W. A. Carey, April 9, 1875. J. G. Higgins; April 8, 1876. George Frazer, April 8, 1878. Levi Cofield, April, 17, 1879. Isaac Redenbo, April 14, 1880. Milton Valentine, 1885. I. N. Redenbo, 1886. Milton Valentine, 1888. H. L. Housen, 1889. F. W. Bown; 1891. Leander Walter, 1892. F. W. Brown, 1894. George W. Wilkey, 1895. F. R. Higgins, 1897. G. William Vorlss, 1898. W. B. Fulton, 1900. P. O. Stockstill, 1901. A. D. Rhinehart, 1903. P. O. Stockstill, 1905. Ed Elsner, 1908. James Doak, 1908. P. O. Stockstill, 1911. In 1912 the trustees of Orange township are: S. T. Buirley, H. W. Caven and John Beaman, and the township clerk is James W. Wiley, of Sidney.


Kirkwood, a small village of about sixty six inhabitants and formerly called Pontiac, was laid out in May, 1868, and is located in section 28, township 1, range 12 M. R. S. It lies six miles south of Sidney on the C. H. & D. Railroad. The first building was erected here in 1863, by G. W. Holley, and was a grain warehouse. Before engaging in the business, however, Mr. Holley sold to D. K. Gillespie, who began buying grain in 1864. In 1899 a store building was erected by H. S. Gillespie and Thomas McKee, which firm was succeeded by J. G. & Andrew Robinson, among later proprietors being Andrew Robinson (alone) and J. L. McKee. The village, which was originally known as Pontiac; in 1879 took the name in honor of D. Kirkwood Gillespie, who was proprietor of the grain elevator here R. G. Knox keeps the general store and post office in Kirkwood. There is also a warehouse in Kirkwood owned by Adlard and Persinger of Sidney.

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