History of Scioto Township, Ross County OH

From: The County of Ross
Henry Holcomb Bennett, Editor
Published by Selvyn A. Brant
Madison, Wis. 1902


PREVIOUS to April 16, 1803, Scioto township existed under territorial authority for the convenience of the people in the adjustment of local affairs. Justices and other necessary civil officers were appointed by the governor. On the date above written, an act was passed by the State legislature, providing "That the associate judges of the court of common pleas, in each and every county within this State, shall meet on the tenth day of May next, at the places where courts are to be held, and shall proceed to lay out their counties, respectively, into a convenient number of townships." In accordance with the provisions of this law, existing boundaries were affirmed, changed or abandoned, according to the decisions of the judges, while some new organizations were effected. The second section of the act provided, further: "That the judges aforesaid shall, at the time and placed aforesaid, appoint to each township a proper number of justices of the peace, who shall be elected on the twenty first day of June, at such place in each township as the said judges may direct, agreeable to the provisions of an act entitled, `An act directing the mode of conducting elections.'

It is stated, and generally understood, that Scioto is the oldest township in Ross county, and this is probable; but the court record of the proceedings of the associate judges of Ross county shows that "Reuben Abrams, William Patton and Felix Renick, associate judges of Ross county, met at the courthouse on Tuesday, the tenth of May, 1803, and proceeded to regulate and establish the boundaries of the different townships in this county, and to apportion the justices of the peace to be elected in and for each." The same record shows that eleven townships were then established for Ross county, and defines the boundaries then determined for Scioto township. as follows: "Beginning at the forks of the road above the house of Henry Massie, thence south twenty five degrees, west to the road leading to Swearingen's mill; thence with said road to Paint creek; thence up Paint creek to the big narrows, below Vincent Hailer's; thence south from the lower end of said narrows to the upper boundaries of Pee Poe township; thence with said boundary to the beginning." The qualified electors of this township were required to "meet at the courthouse in Chillicothe on the twenty first day of the following June, then and there to elect four justices of the peace." Soon after this the board of county commissioners was created who, by virtue of their office, had jurisdiction of the matter of erecting new townships and changing township boundaries. Since that time much territory formerly embraced within, Ross county has been absorbed in the organization of new counties, and some entire townships transferred. The remaining townships have been subdivided in the erection of new ones, Scioto contributing its share to this end.

September 6, 1806, the south part. of Scioto and the northern part of Pee Pee (now in Pike county) were nnited in forming the present township of Franklin. August 13, 1807, the line between Scioto and Twin townships was readjusted as follows: "Beginning at Paint creek, at the upper of the narrows at the mouth of Cattail run; thence a due south line to the dividing Bridge between Sunfish and Paints creeks." On the 23d of August, 1809, it was "ordered that the line between Union and Scioto townships be rim as follows: Beginning on the east bank of North Paint, on the line between James Porter and Robert McDill; thence a straight line to the junction of the Deer creek and Limestone roads." June 20, 1810, a part of Union township was set of and attached to Scioto township "by a line beginning at the fork of the Deer creek and Limestone roads; thence a straight line to the southeast corner of Colman's survey on main Paint; thence with the southwest line of said survey to the creek." This action restored a portion of the territory previously detached by the order of August 23d, 1809. On the 5th of March, 1811, Scioto contributed a slice of territory from the southwest part, in forming Huntington township.

April 8, 1818, the last important change in boundaries was made, under the provisions of the following: "Ordered that Scioto township be extended front the mouth of the north fork of Paint creek, thence up the main Paint, with the meanders thereof, to the mouth of Cattail run; from thence a straight direction to the bridge on the north fork of Paint creek; thence down said creek to the intersection of a line run by Jeremiah McLene between Scioto and Union townships." The boundaries of the township are very irregular, as are nearly all of those in the military district. Scioto township has a greater extent of water boundary than any other township in the county, having about eight miles on the Scioto river and five miles on Paint creek. Adjoining townships are Springfield and Liberty on the east, Franklin southast, Huntington on the south, Twin on the west, and Union on the north.

The topographical features of the township are peculiarly striking, and embrace a great variety of natural scenery. The broad and fertile valley of the Scioto, with the Paint creek valley, equally as rich and productive, are the principal sources of agricultural wealth. That this particular spot was chosen by the first settlers of the valley, who had the choice of a vast scope of country from which to select, is evidence sufficient of the wonderfully productive character of the soil. The adjacent hill lands, which in some instances approach the character of mountains, are also well adapted to agricultural and horticultural purposes. On the summit of some of the highest hills are found broad table lands, or plateaus, which are well improved and highly productive. Near the city of Chillicothe, at the western edge of the valleys, is a series of high hills assuming the form of a semicircle, from north to the south of the city, touching the city at one point. From the summit of this a magnificent view of the city is afforded, including a broad expanse of the valley, above and below. To the eastward may be seen the mountainous range of bills in Springfield township, including Mount Logan, of historic fame, and several others of almost equal altitude. On the lofty crest of one of these hills, within the limits of Chillicothe, is now located Grand View cemetery, the principal burial place of the city. From this point, which marks the angle between the Scioto and Paint creek valleys, and commanding a view of both, the sight is most entrancing. It is said that Daniel Webster, on one of his tours through this country, visited this now sacred spot, and afterward remarked that he "had seldom seen a more magnificent landscape than the one there presented to the eye." Bayard Taylor, the great traveler and naturalist, reiterated Webster's statement in 1853. Rocky Gorge or "Alum Cliffs," is a geological freak on the southwestern boundary of the township, which has been visited by many geologists of more than local celebrity. This interesting point is located on Paint creek, and is geologically termed the "new valley" of that stream, caused by the recession of the waters during the prehistoric glacial period. This phenomenon consists in a radical change of the course of the creek, wherein it was forced to leave the valley and cut its way through the rugged bluffs in a gorge which is estimated to be from one hundred to two hundred feet or more in depth, with steep, precipitous walls of rock. The adjacent bluffs are at some points along this course as high as five hundred feet, in a continuous wall of rock, broken occasionally on the north side by the passage of small streams which flow from the north. The waters of Paint creek pass through this new channel for a distance of about four miles, when they re-enter the old course, and pass on as before. It is assuredly a most picturesque spot, and has attracted the attention of noted geologists of the State.

The first settlers of this township were largely of the class of daring frontiersmen who accompanied the Massie party, and were identified with the settlement of Chillicothe. Some remained in the village for a time, and subsequently sought homes on the rich lands adjacent, while others came a few years later, so that the lands of Scioto township were very generally occupied by actual settlers at an early date in the history of the last century.

General Massie made his first surveys within the present limits of Scioto township in 1793, but the occupancy of the lands was deferred because of Indian troubles until the settlement of Chillicothe, in 1796. The first surveys were made along the Scioto river and in the valleys of the two forks of Paint creek, because of the superior quality of the lands at these points. The less desirable lands remote from the stream, and in the hilly districts, were not surveyed or entered until a later period, in fact a few surveys were made in these districts as late as 1847.

Virginians held, by far, the larger part of the lands included in the first surveys, many of whom never settled upon their holdings, but held them for sale to actual settlers. Among the earliest of these surveys were Survey No. 592, of eleven hundred acres, made of William Reynolds, October 5, 1793; Survey No. 1,260, one hundred acres, made for William Lawson, October 6, 1793; Survey No. 2,216, of five hundred and thirty four acres, made for Thomas Lewis, October 7, 1793. On the same date Survey No. 562, of two thousand acres, made for Francis Coleman; Survey No. 529, of twelve hundred acres, made for Mayo Carrington, November 3, 1793; Survey No. 2,217, of fourteen hundred and ninety acres, made for Nicholas Talliaferro, June 16, 1797; Survey No. 1,418, of one thousand acres, made for John Harris, March. 18, 1799; Survey No. 235, of twelve hundred acres, made for Charles Scott, September 10, 1800; Survey No. 4,192, of four hundred and fifty acres, made for Duncan McArthur, March 29, 1805; Survey No. 4,294, of four hundred and fifty five acres, made for Elias Langham, June 3, 1805; Survey No. 7,861, of one hundred acres, made for Mathew Hobson, November 9, 1813; Survey No. 4,727, of two hundred acres, made for John and William Messhimon, May 15, 1815; Survey No. 8,506, of two hundred, and fifty five acres, made for Cadwallader Wallace, September 2, 1815; Survey No. 6,729, of two hundred acres, made for Angus L. Langham, April 3, 1817; Survey No. 9,273, of two hundred acres, made for Cadwallader Wallace, June 18; 1818. The last survey in the township, so far as the records show, was made under No. 15,062, embracing nineteen acres. This was on the 15th of February, 1847.

The Reynolds survey, the first made in the township, was purchased, mostly, by two brothers, John and William Patton. It lies just south of Chillicothe. John Patton came in 1796 and built a two story log house on the land and moved his family from Kentucky and occupied the house in 1797. In 1801 he built a stone addition, also two stories high, and this is yet standing. After sixty years, the log part was replaced with brick. William Patton came to Scioto township in 1799, and built a log house which he weather boarded. This stood near the Paint street bridge. The original survey of eleven hundred acres has been owned for a hundred years by these two early pioneers and their descendants. John and Margaret Haynes came with their families from Charlestown, Vac., in 1808. After a two years' residence in Chillicothe, they settled on Carrington's survey in the western part of the township. John Haynes was a blacksmith by occupation, and his mechanical knowledge led him into the milling business at an early day when he owned three mills on Paint creek. His son, John S. Haynes, succeeded to the property, and occupied the old homestead during a long and active life.

John Kirkpatrick came from Caneridge, Ky., in 1797. His daughter was the wife of Dr. Samuel Meadow, well known in the pioneer history of Chillicothe, where she was born at the beginning of the last century. John Kirkpatrick located on a farm of three hundred acres three miles south of the city, where he died at the age of ninety one. Samuel Ewing emigrated from Pittsburg in 1806. He was an active and progressive business man who made a success of his efforts in the new country. Being a saddler and harness maker, he at once opened up a prosperous business, which he operated until his death. In the furtherance of his business interests, he would receive in payment for goods such farm products as his customers had to sell, and he soon established a lively trade with the southern markets, whither he would convey cargoes of flour, pork, wheat or whiskey, by way of the tedious flat boat route. The exposures incident to these frequent trips no doubt shortened his life. He died in 1857, leaving five children, four of whom remained in the county, and one located in Colorado. John E. Ewing learned the business under his father's tutorship, and operated it successfully for many years after his father's death. Alexander Ewing, a brother of Samuel, came with the latter and engaged in the same line of business. Descendants of both of these pioneers still live in the county.

Hugh Gormley established a home in Scioto township as early as 1806. He was a native of Cumberland county, Pa. He bought one hundred acres of land southeast of Chillicothe upon which the family lived for several years, Mr. Ghormley in the meantime operating a carpet weaving establishment in the city. Subsequently he bought a farm near Paint creek, but returned to the city to live, and died here in 1848. Thomas Ghormley, a son of Hugh, was born in Pennsylvania, July 6, 1799. He married Miss Elizabeth Steele, of Chillicothe, in 1835. He was a man prominent in the business, social and political affairs of the city, in which he was engaged in merchandising for more than thirty years. He served four years as county treasurer and two terms as sheriff. His brother James lost his life in the civil war, being one of the many victims of Andersonville atrocities. The "Pioneer Record" of Ross county gives the following names as representing early established families in west Scioto: William Rogers, Andrew and George Pontius, Peter Porter, James, Robert, Joseph, Jacob and William McDill; Michael, Thomas and Robert Adams; James McCrea, Joseph Clark, William Robinson, Enos and John Pursell, Jacob Grundy, Richard and John Acton, Thomas, Robert and William Brown, William Poole, James Danans, John and George Recohs, Daniel Dixon, Robert Worthington, Thomas Shields, James Pryor, Hugh and James Cochran, Samuel Smith, Daniel Augustus, James Carr, James Armstrong, Thomas Earle, Thomas Junk, and Thomas Arthur. The last named lacked but a few months of rounding out a full century on life's tempestuous journey.

The family of Nicholas Haynes located in west Scioto in 1808, and two sons, Henry and John Haynes, became prominent and well known citizens of the county where their lives have been spent. Hugh and Alonzo Carson were also among the early settlers, as were the Sullivan and Dunn families. The Creamer brothers, Isaac, Jacob, Andrew and Adam, settled near the river in east Scioto. Adam Creamer served in the Revolutionary war under General Greene, while several of his sons were soldiers in the war of 1812, and served under General Harrison.

The colored rare was represented among the earliest settlers of the county. Some of these were liberated slaves, whose former masters brought them to the new country as freemen, while others were born free. Thomas Watson, a colored man, was a resident of Scioto township in 1796; Henry Evans in 1798; Nelson Piles in 1800; Samuel Nichol in 1808; Abram Nichol in 1809; Peter James in 1812, and Henry Hill in 1813. Many descendants of these pioneer colored people still live in the township, and it must be said to their credit that they are, with few exceptions; law abiding, honest, and industrious citizens, whose usefulness has been recognized' and appreciated by the well meaning, thoughtful inhabitants. Some of the worthy colored people of Chillicothe have been honored with places of trust and responsibility, in which they have proved themselves honest and capable. They have representation on the police force, and in the postoffice department. They have two churches in the city, besides various lodges and social organizations. Their children are not required to attend separate schools, though one is provided; and when they are ready to pass into the high school the races are united, and pursue their further studies under the same instructors.

Scioto township does not differ materially from the other townships of the county in regard to early industries. The pioneer mills, distilleries, churches and schools had their existence, and, with the exception of the latter, have mostly passed away, with the increasing prominence of Chillicothe as a marketing and trading point, coupled with the superior advantages of the city in a religious and educational way. But there are several suburban manufacturing plants catering largely to the city trade. Among these are numerous brick and tile factories, extensive market gardening industries, and numerous plants for the propagation of seeds and flowers. Connected with the extensive raising of cereals and stock, many of the farmers also combine fruit growing, in which industry they are generally successful. Scioto township has in. the neighborhood of five hundred acres devoted exclusively to commercial orchards and vineyards. These are divided in about the following order: Apples one hundred acres with seven thousand trees; peaches, two hundred and thirty acres, and about sixty thousand trees; grapes, about eighty acres, and two hundred thousand vines. In the cultivation of berries of various kinds, at least fifty acres are in constant use, yielding the supplies for home consumption, with a large surplus for the market. Chillicothe is one of the largest fruit shipping points in Ohio. The principal grain crop is wheat and corn, for the production of which the different soils are admirably adapted. Corn is the staple product, and this is generally fed to cattle and hogs, these being the source of principal income. Horses and sheep are also raised with profit, on the rich grazing fields afforded by the well watered hillsides, which are not available for profitable cultivation.

There are twelve school districts in Scioto township, exclusive of the Chillicothe public, private and parochial schools. With a carefully graded course of study, these give the persisting students the advantages of a good common school education, and fit their graduates for the ordinary business of life.

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