Grove City History – Part 5

(The following was written by Harold Windsor and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

Breck’s death occurred August 8th, 1864, in a very peculiar way, and Grove City and Jackson Township was bereaved of one of its leaders and great men.

It is told by old residents that brick was loading oats in a field near the Old Johnston and Grant Lumberyard when one of the farmers of the community rode by on Horseback, returning from Columbus, and informed Breck that Abraham Lincoln had been nominated again for president. Breck, a staunch Republican, yelled with joy, frightening his horses which lunged with the wagon toppling Breck from the load of oats and breaking his neck from the fall. He died almost instantly and was buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, August 11th, 1864. He had lived in this community for 18 years and during that time his dream of a town had been realized. Breck was 59 years of age. His wife died 30 years later. They were the parents of George and Sofia Breck. The former lives in Maryland, but the latter’s whereabouts is not known.

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)

Grove City History – Part 4

(The following was written by Harold Windsor and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

Seeing the need of better materials from which to build homes, Breck established a brick plant on a tract of ground just east of the present Lutheran Church in 1850. There he manufactured brick and built the first brick house in Grove City proper which contain nearly 20 rooms, on the northwest corner of Broadway and Park, where Graeter’s Ice Cream now stands. Many remember the old landmark, for it was later used for many purposes, such as Home for Aged, Woodland Hotel, which was its original name, Breck intending to use the building on a large scale for a hotel and home.  It was also used as a post office by Armand Van Sciver and later a residence. The building was dismantled in 1922.

In the same year Breck also built a sawmill, and from the lumber cut in his mill and brick from the brick kilns some of the early homes of Grove City were built. These houses were erected mostly by William Sibray, a brick mason and plasterer who came here with Breck and George Weygandt, a carpenter who also accompanied the town’s founder to Jackson Township. These two mechanics were augmented by others, such as Samuel Lippert, a painter and glass fitter; and G. W. Orders, a laborer.

About 1852 Randolph Higgy settled in Grove City and purchased the general store of Breck and operated it for a number of years. He was also postmaster of the town. Breck then built a storeroom on a site just in the rear of the present First National Bank building where he also operated a general mercantile business until a few years before his death in 1864.

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)

Grove City History – Part 3

(The following was written by Harold Windsor and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

The original plat of Grove City shows that the town consisted of all the area east of what is now Broadway, bounded on the south by what is now Civic Drive at the library; on the north by Franklin Street at the Harley Motors building; on the east by Dudley Avenue and 4th Street; Park Street continued to a line fence just west of the high school buildings. All the land to the west of Broadway, about 300 acres, was owned by Breck also, on which he followed his pursuit of farming, and it was not until many years later that the business houses were built on the west side of Broadway. This land was not included in the original survey of Grove City.

The work of building the town began at once and was prosecuted with pioneer energy. A number of more or less comfortable log dwellings were finished and occupied before the winter of 1852 and during the year of 1853 steady progress was made, so by the end of the year the town had a population of 50 people.

Breck at once set about to use every means in his power to encourage industrious mechanics who wished to make a residence in the town. Special offers and invitations were sent to them to become purchasers of lots.

In its beginning the village was never a boomtown; however, in the next ten years its growth was substantial but slow. Breck built the first store room in the village and here he handled all commodities to be found in a country store of that day. Breck’s first store was built on the corner where Urlin Barbee’s hardware store now stands. Here Breck conducted his general store and operated the first post office in Grove City. Mail was delivered from Columbus by the stagecoach, which ran between Columbus and Mt. Sterling.

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)

Grove City History – Part 2

(The following was written by Harold Windsor and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

Breck’s first thought on location here was to farm the land he had purchased, but with the building of the Harrisburg turnpike from Columbus to Harrisburg in 1848, realized the importance of its  construction and began to materialize plans for a town, believing it would make an ideal stopping-off place for travelers soon to use the newly-built turnpike.

The land purchased by Breck in 1846, and later to be Grove City, was part of the farm of Hugh Grant, Jr., son of the first settler in Jackson Township (Hugh Grant, Sr.) who in turn had sold 15 1/4 Acres of the northwest part of the farm to George and Jane Perrington. Hugh Grant, Sr., had acquired the land from Joseph Tagart of Pennsylvania. Perrington paid $86 for the 15 1/4 acres in 1843 and Breck purchased the same land in 1846 for $120.

Acquiring several more parcels of land, comprising all of Beulah and land west of Grove City, Breck no doubt had visions of a great estate with fertile areas covered with growing crops, a small army of men busy with horses and plows, scythe and sickle, and a village nearby. after some 6 years devoted to his farm work, the first part of which was spent in clearing the land, then a “forest of oak, beech, maple, walnut and other trees common to the uplands of Ohio,” about the great trunks of which “huge grape vines were here and there entwined,” while the dogwood, wild plum and hawberry also added to the underbrush of the wilderness, Breck came to the conclusion that” the strong man taketh a city, but the wise man buildeth his own.”

With a much traversed road now running through the township and a few scattered log cabins forming a settlement, Breck saw the need of a school, church and store, and a blacksmith shop and carpenter shop were necessities in connection with the founding of a new town. Then with the precedent that other towns were thriving, a small army of busy men set about to build the wilderness.

In 1852, William Breck with a commission of men of whom were George Weygandt, William Sibray and Jeremiah Smith, surveyed the 15 1/4 acres Breck had purchased when first locating in Jackson Township, and the land was forthwith plotted into town lots.

The plotting of the streets and alleys constituted the greater part of the work required of the commission, and many changes were made in order to obtain the necessary boundaries of the village.

The Grove City Road, commonly known as ”Dutch Pike,” crossed Grove City at right angles through the land between Park and Columbus Street, running directly through the present school grounds. To plot the streets due east and west it was necessary to abandon the old road from Broadway to the Lutheran Church site, Columbus Street was plotted to extend west to Broadway from the east end of the old road.

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)

Grove City History – Part 1

(The following was written by Harold Windsor and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

Breck’s Biography

It does not always that the founder of a town leaves the imprint of his personality as did Breck on this lonely settlement in the wilderness, ordained to become a thriving village of the great state of Ohio. Therefore it is well to know something of the man himself and the currents of character and chance that carried him to influence the destiny of so many of his fellow men.

William Foster Breck, youngest son of John and Mahalia Breck, was born in Belpre, Ohio, Washington County (on the banks of the Ohio River, across which stream and opposite Belpre, is Parkersburg, W. Va.), sometime in July, 1785 (the exact day of our subject’s birth is not known). As a boy Breck availed himself of what general education there was to be secured, giving the most particular application to mathematics, and in due time was able to survey land.  However, he was imbued with the spirit that makes pioneers and he early settled near Pickerington, Ohio, Fairfield County, and married Elizabeth Smith.

In the spring of 1846, Breck made his first expedition to Jackson Township looking for new and more fertile lands, and later that fall he determined to return to the community and make a permanent home for himself in the wilderness that once surrounded the town, for at that time there was but a few homes within a radius of six to ten miles of the town.

Breck was of medium height, muscular and well-proportioned, quick and active in his movements, with an erect carriage and a good walk, a well-balanced head, a broad and high forehead, an aquiline nose, blue gray eyes, a firm mouth and square chin. He was firm and positive in his opinions but of courteous in manners and expressions, prompt to act upon his own convictions, and altogether a man of forcible character, exercising influence over those with whom he came in contact as is born out by the type of men that accompanied him here in 1846.

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)


Early Township Histories – Part 5

(The following was compiled by the (Columbus) Historical Publishing Company, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

Prairie Township

This Township is bound on the north by Brown and Norwich townships, South by Pleasant Township, East by Franklin and Jackson townships and west by the township of Jefferson in Madison County. Prairie Township presents few distinctive features’ its surface is level, it’s soil varied and generally well adapted to the growing of Wheat and corn. Its streams are: Darby Creek, flowing along a portion of the western boundary; Darby Run, flowing from north to south, about central in the township, and Scioto Run, which flows eastward into the Scioto River. None of these are now of much importance, so far as water power, as they are nearly or quite dry during the summer months. This Township was organized and set off under its present name in 1819; its bounds then extended much farther north, including a considerable part of what is now Brown Township, and it had originally been part of Franklin. Among the early settlers were Samuel Higgins and family, Shadrach Postle and family, William Marmon and family, and in 1813 the Clover family, who had been living in Ross County, moved into Prairie and formed what is known as the Clover Settlement. Solomon Clover, one of the sons, had a passion for hunting, and killed more wolves, bears and deer, with which the county then abounded, than any of his competitors. His brother Samuel was also proficient with the gun. The father, mother, brothers and sisters of Daniel Harrington, who settled in Prairie in 1821 were all massacred by the Indians in their home in Kentucky, where Daniel was born. The first post-office was established in 1836, John Graham being appointed post-master. About 25 years ago another post office was established at the Galloway station, Milton Demorest becoming post-master. The first physician was Dr. George Richey, a skilled practitioner, and the first hotel opened in Alton. The first school in Prairie, 1817, was taught by Peter Clover in a little log building standing on his farm, and he had about twenty scholars.A large log house was next built, and it was used for many years for both school and church purposes. The Rev. John Solomon and George Nealy were among the first preachers, and a meeting house was erected on the Harrisburg and Galloway Turnpike.

First Families

Jackson Township: William Brown, Nicholas Haun, Jonas Orders, William Badger, Woolry Conrad, William Sinnet, the Brackenridges, the Borrors, the Straders and the Goldsmiths.

Franklin Township:  Samuel White, John Huffman, William Harrison.

Pleasant Township: Thomas Roberts, John Biggert, James Gardiner, Samuel Dyer, Samuel Kerr.

Early Township Histories – Part 4

(The following was compiled by the (Columbus) Historical Publishing Company, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

Pleasant Township

The Township of Pleasant was organized in 1807, and during that time, embraced about five times its current area. It was reduced to its present limits by the formation of Jackson in 1815 and prairie in 1819. The township is bounded on the North by the township of Darby and Pickaway County; on the east by Jackson Township; West by Fairfield and Jefferson townships, Madison County. Is a farming Township exclusively. The surface is varied, some portions presenting an almost level plain, While others, especially along Darby Creek are exactly the reverse, and often, decidedly hilly. The soil along the bottom is a strong black marl of great fertility, and on the upland, it is mostly clay, well adapted to the growing of corn and grain crops generally. These streams are the Big and Little Darby, which enter the township near the northwest corner and form a junction near Georgesville, and from here the Big Darby continues a general Southeast course through the township. The pioneer settlers in Pleasant were the brothers, Thomas and Elijah Chenoweth, natives of Maryland, who moved here with their families, from Pike County, Ohio, in the fall of 1799. They purchased each two hundred acres of land, in the present Village of Harrisburg, and built crude log cabins to protect them from the severity of the long winter, then rapidly approaching. Elijah’s cabin stood at the foot of the hill. The work of clearing the land was it once begun, and, in time, the Indian neighbors were supplanted by hardy backwoods settlers. The log cabin was exchanged for the substantial mansion, the dense forest gave way before the keen axe of the settler, and in its place came broad acres rich with their store of waving corn. Benjamin Foster and Samuel Kerr, with their families, settled in this vicinity soon after the Chenoweth’s, and  other early settlers were: John Biggert, John Dyer, Thomas Roberts, James Gardner, Philip Hoffman, Adam Spangler, Foster Price, James Walker, John McKinley, William Cummins, Manor Duke Story, Handy Smith, William L. Foster, James Bradfield, George Francis, R.M. Worthington, Gideon Walton, Samuel Kerr, Ruben Chaffin, William D. Adams, John V. Leach, John Turner, Charles Hunter, Morris Yates, John Harvey, George Goodson, Simon Cochran, and James Walker.

The first White child born in Pleasant was a daughter to Elijah and Rachel Chenoweth, on December 9, 1800, the first marriage was that of John Chenoweth to Elisabeth Foster, about the beginning of the century. The first frame house was built by Samuel Kerr; the first brick house by John Biggert. The first tavern was built in Harrisburg by John Morgan, and was named White Hall. It afterwards became the United States Hotel. The first orchard was planted by Thomas Chenoweth, about 1800, and some of the trees are still standing. The first business house was opened in March 1837, by George Geiger, and William Foresman, in a small building in the southwest corner of Harrisburg.They subsequently built what is known as post-office row, and for years carried on business operations there. There are now numerous shops in small manufactories. The first post-office was opened in Pleasant in 1815, and bore the name of the Township. In 1816, Georgesville was laid out, and the post-office was changed to that name. The first grist mill was built in 1805 by Samuel Dyer, and the second flouring mill on Darby Creek was built about 1864 by Thomas Chenoweth. Among the physicians to settle in Harrisburg were Drs. Lemuel Boyd, Thomas Thompson, George W. Helmick. William J. Bashaw, George W. Bashaw, Jr., Edward F. Morgan, George W. Gardner, W.N. Shoemaker, the latter settling in Georgesville.The village of Harrisburg was incorporated in 1851, and at the election which followed, the following were chosen officers: Mayor, Dr. J. Helmick; Recorder, Z. G. Weddle; Trustees, Henry Miller, J. Chenoweth, O.T. Curry, L.W. Sifford, and Dr. George W. Helmick.

(The conclusion of this story in the next blog entry.)

Early Township Histories – Part 3

(The following was compiled by the (Columbus) Historical Publishing Company, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

Jackson Township

The township is situated in the extreme southern part of the county, adjoining Pickaway County and is bounded on the north by Franklin Township, East by Hamilton, West by Pleasant and Prairie, and South by Scioto Township. Jackson was set off and organized under its present name and boundaries by 1815. It had originally been part of Franklin Township. The first settler was Hugh Grant, a native of Maryland, who moved to Pittsburgh, and then married Catherine Barr. In 1804 he came with his family numbering five, to Ohio, locating first in Ross County. While there, he purchased some four hundred and fifty acres of land in Jackson Township, and in the spring of 1805 removed there. Not knowing the exact location of his purchase, he squatted on land near the river, where he was killed not long afterwards, and his widow eventually located the land her husband purchased, where she remained until her death on August 17th, 1836. Mr. Grant was a noted hunter, and is reputed to have killed eighty-two deer during one fall. The township suffered much from the want of direct and good roads to market, but the construction of the Harrisburg, the Franklin and the Cottage Mill Turnpikes, all passing through Jackson, removed that inconvenience. Among the early settlers of Jackson, were Jonas Orders, John Curry, Samuel Breckenridge, Percival Adams, William C. Duff, James Seeds, John Hoover, William Brown, Jacob Borer, Henry Baumgartner, John C. Neff, Hawes Bawbee, and Valentine F. Shover.

The first White child born in Jackson was Nancy, daughter of William C. And Catherine Duff. The first brick house here was built by William Brown in 1814. There was no village or post-office until, Grove City was laid out in the summer of 1852 by W. F. Breck. When a post-office was established there, Mr. Breck was the first postmaster holding the office up to 1857, when he was succeeded by Ralph Higgy. The first sawmill was built, on Turkey Run over 60 years ago, by Robert Seeds. Three years later, it was carried away by floods, and Mr. Seeds afterward built a mill on Grant’s Run. About 1850, the first steam sawmill was built here, stone for grinding purpose being added later. A drain tile factory, wagon factory, blacksmith shops and general stores complete the business interest here. Grove City is pleasantly situated on the Harrisburg Pike, and is about 7 miles from Columbus. The first church in Jackson, was Scioto Chapel, erected by the Christian Faith denomination, which was organized in 1812. The Methodist built Jackson Chapel in 1859. The Methodist Episcopal Church was built at Grove City in 1859. Concord Chapel was also built in 1859. The German Lutheran Church was formed about 1861. Zion Chapel, composed of members from Scioto Chapel, was built in 1869. The first school in Jackson was held in 1815. The first physician here, was Dr. Joseph Mullen, who arrived about 1852, and his death occurred in 1878. The township is now well supplied with schoolhouses.

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)

Early Township Histories – Part 2

(The following was compiled by the (Columbus) Historical Publishing Company, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

Early Industrial Interests

The need for flouring mills was one of the earliest wants of the first settler, and their absence caused the pioneers much inconvenience. A hand-mill was constructed in Franklinton which would grind corn, but it was far short of capacity sufficient to accommodate the whole colony, and many were obliged to use the ”stump mortar,” while others reduced the corn to a proper condition for bread making by grating it. About 1800 two small mills were built on the Scioto, but both soon fell into disguise and decay. After this, mills driven by horsepower were built, but they were primitive in their construction and proved unsatisfactory. The first grist mill of importance was erected in 1820 by Lucas Sullivant. Franklinton Township had numerous saw mills in its early history, as the government made donations to anyone who would construct a mill. As a consequence many persons built mills, sawed enough lumber to get a title to the land, then they would let the mill go to decay.

Camp Chase

This rendezvous was famous in the War of Rebellion. Goodale Park, which had been used for a military camp from the first mustering of troops, began about June to be gradually thinned of soldiers, or recruits, and was at length all together abandoned as a camp. In the meantime a new camp on a more extensive scale was organized on the National Road, about five miles west of the city. This was at first called Camp Jackson, but the name was soon afterward changed to Camp Chase, in honor of Salmon P. Chase, ex-governor of Ohio, and then Secretary of the United States Treasury. It was ultimately turned over to the United States Authorities. Camp Chase soon assume the appearance of a military city. It was regularly laid out in squares and streets, with numerous wooden structures and white canvas tents. Each regiment or other organization had its special quarters assigned. From a camp for a rendezvous, organization and drill of troops, it became as the war progressed, the quarters for paroled prisoners of war, and the site of a huge prison for the confinement of Rebel prisoners. The camp lasted as long as the War lasted, and here thousands of Ohio’s loyal Sons learned “the dread art of war,” and went forth to battle for the Union. Of these many, very many, never returned. Their lives were sacrificed in the cause of the Union, and beneath the sunny skies of the South, where the orange and magnolia wave a ceaseless perfume, their graves perhaps unmarked, they sleep the final sleep of all. The lands formerly embraced within the enclosure of Camp Chase are now divided into lots, and where there was once the spacious parade ground, now stand the dwellings of peaceful citizens. To the south of the camp is the Rebel graveyard, containing the remains of some thousands of Confederate soldiers, who died in prison in the camp of disease or wounds. Subsequent to the erection of Camp Chase, Camp Thomas was established east of the Worthington Plank Road, about four miles from the city. It was at first used as the rendezvous of Colonel H. B. Carrington’s regiment, 18th U.S. Infantry, but soon became a camp for general purposes. Franklin Township furnished a full share of men and officers, many of whom achieved fame, and to all is do a meed of Glory for the attainment of that great result ”One Flag, One Country!”

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)

Early Township Histories – Part 1

(The following was written by Jack Maurey and compiled by the (Columbus) Historical Publishing Company, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the authors.)

Introduction by Jack Maurey

Early histories of the four townships comprising the area served by Southwest Franklin County Historical Society have been given printed space in various newspapers and other publications over the years. If there has ever been a publication that contained them all at the same time, I am unaware of it.

With this in mind, I think it is appropriate to include the histories of Franklin, Jackson, Prairie and Pleasant Townships, the four townships served by the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society.

These histories are recorded in the book: Franklin County at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century Historical Record of its Development, Resources, Industries and Inhabitants, compiled by the Historical Publishing Company, Columbus, Ohio 1901.

Franklin Township

Immediately after the formation of Franklin County in 1803, it was divided into four townships of equal size. The southwest quarter, then nearly double the size of the present entire county, was designated as Franklin Township, and it is the only township in the county that bears the original name. Here was begun the settlement of this now populous and wealthy county, for here in August, 1797, was laid out the pioneer village of the county–Franklinton–now annexed to Columbus. The surface features are generally level, the only exceptions being the course of the streams, where it is rolling. The principal water source, the Scioto River, is of some importance as furnishing water power advantages. The Olentangy River is next in size and, flowing from the West, is Scioto Big Run that, with its tributaries, completes the watercourses of the township.The Indians in the facility were peaceable and friendly toward the settlers, and though, when under the influence of whiskey they fought savagely among themselves, rarely did they molest the Whites. When the Indians finally left this Section, one remained, a harmless old fellow who lived on game and help from the settlers; but this poor man was finally killed by a hunter named Daniel Harrington.

The first hotel here was built in Franklinton in 1803, by Joseph Foos; It was a brick, and considered a monster affair at the time, though it would hardly make a respectable kitchen for the hotel of today. Mr. Foos was an active, progressive citizen, served for some 20 years as a member of the legislature, served in the War of 1812 as Brigadier-General and afterward in the militia, rose to rank of Major-General. The second hotel, or “tavern,” as they were then called, was opened by William Domigan, Sr., who came here in 1803. John Huffman, one of the first settlers, established a distillery here in 1801 and some years later he purchased four thousand acres of land in Plain Township, giving in payment therefore, ONE GALLON OF WHISKEY PER ACRE, one debt that may truthfully be said to have been LIQUIDATED by him.

Samuel White was prominent in the pioneer settlement of Franklin Township. He was a soldier in the Revolution and fought nearly seven years in the struggle for independence. At the Battle of Stony Point, it is said, he was scalped by the Indians who left him in the field for dead. He lived, however, to October 1841, when he was fatally injured by a runaway horse. Captain Adin G. Hibbs, who came here from Pennsylvania In 1832, subsequently laid out the village of Shadeville and amassed a great wealth. The first merchandising was by Robert Russell in 1803, and the stock, which consisted of but an armful or two of general merchandise, and was displayed on shelves placed around the sides of a small building design for a ”smoke-house.” A small table in the center served the double purpose of counter and seat for the proprietor, who could easily reach the goods on the shelves from his seat. Several “pack-horse traders” were engaged in business here from time to time. The goods were transported on Horseback from Pittsburgh and Detroit, and consisted mainly of iron utensils, salt and whiskey. A post-office was erected in Franklinton in 1805, and discontinued in 1835;The successive postmasters were:  Adam Hosach, Henry Brown, Joseph Grate, James B. Gardiner, Jacob Keller, Joseph McDowell, William Lusk, and W. Risley. The first cemetery in the township was that situated on the bank of the Scioto River, north of the village of Franklinton, and here we’e buried a host of those hardy pioneers who helped to subdue the wilderness. The first meeting house here was built of logs in the twenties, by the Methodists and on its site was afterward built a brick edifice, known as the Union Church. The first school was a little log cabin on Gift Street, Franklinton, 1805.

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)