History of Madison County
Darby Township Pioneers
From History of Madison County, W. H. Beers & Co, Chicago, 1883
Darby was among the first townships settled in the county, her history dating back as early as 1795. But those emigrants were generally poor. Therefore, it was a long time before there was any perceptible improvement, either in their condition or facilities for making money; but all alike were subjected to the privations incident to pioneer life. Consequently, justice and courtesy would require that all emigration prior to and including the year 1821 should be chronicled among the list of pioneers. One other important reason for making so much time pioneer years, is, that in the two succeeding ones, disease and death nearly depopulated this part of the county. The terrible sufferings and privations experienced by them make it therefore fitting that the names of those noble men and women should be held in high esteem and cherished in the memories of a grateful people. The first white men to locate in this township were Jonathan Alder, who was discovered by Benjamin Springer, in 1763, living on the banks of Big Darby with his Indian wife; James and Joshua Ewing, Samuel and David Mitchell, with their families and a few others, whose records will be found in the general history, to which we refer the reader for further information of those men.
John Daniel and Richard Taylor, natives of the State of New York, emigrated to Kentucky in the year 1715, and purchased lands near Lexington. From an unsettled condition of titles, they
became discouraged and disgusted by constant litigations and losses. The former of these brothers, John Taylor a young man, became alarmed at the prospective loss of his farm went to Mr. Sullivant, of whom he made his purchase, and stated to him the uncertain condition of his title, whereupon Mr Sullivant proposed to trade him lands in the Territory (now State) of Ohio for his Kentucky farm. This Mr. Taylor readily acceded to. By this exchange, he became the owner of about 300 acres of land on the banks of Big Darby, now in Union County. In the year 1800, this man emigrated to Darby Township, sold his former purchase to Frederick Sager, and bought another of John Graham. This latter purchase is situated about one mile south of Plain City, on both sides of Big Darby. Here he erected a log cabin, stable and other necessary outbuildings, and shortly after, about the year 1801, he married a widow McCollough, sister of Judge Mitchell, whose early life is recorded in the general county history. From this union they had two children, a daughter and a son. The former died in infancy, but the latter, John Taylor, Jr., is still living on the old homestead. At this time the Indians were very numerous, and their camping-grounds were only about one mile up Big Darby from Mr. Taylor's residence. On one occasion, by some means, they had purchased or
stolen a quantity of whisky, and were haying a "general drunk." Always, with such events, the squaws, understanding the savage nature of their liege lords would, if possible, secure all their guns, tomahawks and hunting-knives and hide them to prevent general disaster and bloodshed. One morning, when Mr. Taylor ascended his loft to got feed for his horse, he discovered a great number of tomahawks and hunting-knives sticking in the logs and guns standing in the corners. At this he was horrified, but he soon, however, learned the nature of this strange stacking of arms. Mr. Taylor was quite wealthy and was generous withal. Therefore, it served the double purpose of not only making himself and family comfortable, but also in employing the poor pioneers, and thus assisting them to many of the necessary
comforts of life.
In the year 1803, the other brothers emigrated to Darby. They had lost much of their property in the bogus land-titles of Kentucky; therefore, they were like most of the pioneers, comparatively poor. Daniel, with his family, went directly to this Indian village, or camping-ground, where at this time Jonathan Alder was living with his squaw wife, who proposed to surrender to Mr. Taylor the use of his hut as a shelter to his family. This highly distinguished favor was gladly accepted, and he immediately took possession. He, however, soon after built another by the side of this one, the former being used for a kitchen and the latter for bed, parlor and sitting room. There the children of Mr. Taylor and those of the Indians became intimately associated in their plays and childish frivolities. Among these children there was one little girl by the name of Sarah Taylor, now living, who afterward became the wife of John H. Norton, of whom we shall have occasion to speak in another place.
The Taylor brothers all settled near Big Darby, and, by industry and economy, they secured a competency that relieved them from pressing cares in the evening of their lives. Among their descendants now living here may be mentioned John Taylor, son of John Taylor, Sr., who was born in 1806, has always been a resident of this township and always lived at the old homestead. In his early life, he was particularly fond of good horses, and, with a view of improving this kind of stock, he purchased a few very fine blooded horses, mostly from Kentucky, and were therefore of that peculiar blood and style of which a Kentuckian boasts. The most of his life, however, has been devoted to the raising of cattle, sheep and hogs. He was among the first to introduce the Colmbing wools into this township. He is a progressive farmer, keeping pace with the demands and improvements of the age. Samuel Taylor, son of Richard, lives about one-half mile east of Plain City, the owner of an excellent farm, extensively engaged in agricultural pursuits, his farm being well adapted to the growing of all the cereals of this climate. His attention is also directed in the channel of stock-raising, and at this time he is the owner of several very fine imported Clydes-dale draft horses, which compare favorably with the best importation made to this country.
James Norton, with his family, came to this township in the year 1810 or 1812, purchased a farm on Sugar Run, east of Bug Darby, and lived there until his death, in 1836. His two sons, John and Solomon Norton, came with him. The former of these, in the year 1820, married Miss Sarah Taylor, daughter of Daniel, and one of the little girls mentioned in the preceding lines as being a playmate with the Indian children in the Wyandot village. Mr. Norton became the owner of the greater portion of his father's farm, where he spent his days. He was an exemplary man, morally, a Justice of the Peace, Trustee of the township, Assessor, and some other minor offices were held by him. He died in 1880. Solomon Norton lived in this part of the township for several years, but nothing very definite is known of his history.
Jeremiah Converse was born in New Hampshire in 1760. He emigrated with his father to the State of Vermont prior to the Revolutionary war. Before the close of this conflict, he enlisted as a private in the cause of freedom. On one occasion, he, with his company, was sent out as a scouting party to ascertain the strength and position of a marauding baud of Indians They had traveled many miles along the banks of the Muskingum River, when, toward evening of the second day, they found themselves confronted by about four hundred savages, secreted behind fallen timber, trees, underbrush, etc. The deadly fire from the first volley laid half, and more, of their company in the dust. The surviving ones stood bravely the galling fire from their hidden foe, until the Indian war-whoop and rush of savages reminded them that their only safety was in retreat. In this desperate struggle for life, Mr. Converse was pursued by a single warrior, with gun in hand and uplifted tomahawk, ready to inflict the deadly blow. But being out-distanced by his fleeing foe the savage halted and shot him through the shoulder. His gun instantly dropped from his hand thus made powerless, reeling and benumbed by the shock; but he soon rallied and made good his escape by fording the river and secreting himself in the thick underbrush that grew upon the opposite bank. On the third day, he, with three others, arrived in camp, being all that was left to tell the sad story. His wound disabled him for life, therefore he was soon after discharged from the military service. He subsequently became a traveling minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
In the year 1814, this Revolutionary soldier, and Rhoda Converse, his wife, with their family, emigrated to Darby Township. He and most of his sons bought homes adjacent to or in near proximity to each other, about three miles west of Big Darby, upon what was then known as Darby Plains. The Rev. Mr. Converse was the first pioneer minister in this portion of the county. Therefore, he was generally known and equally esteemed for his uprightness and zeal for the cause he espoused. He always lived upon the farm of his first purchase, where he also died, in the year 1837, aged seventy-seven. His oldest son, Sanford Converse, settled in Licking County, being grandfather to the Hon. George L. Converse, of Columbus, Ohio. Those sons of the Rev. Mr. Converse that made purchases and lived on the Darby Plains were Parley, Squire, Lathrop, Jeremiah, Jr., Silas and Charles Converse.
Parley Converse was a farmer and mechanic. He was elected to the office of Justice, which he filled with credit to himself and justice to those he officially dealt with. He was an exhorter in the Methodist Episcopal Church for forty years or more. After he became unable to labor upon the farm or at his trade, he moved to Plain City where he died in 1866. His sons now living are Caleb and Parley. Jr.. both residents of Union County. Squire Converse was a farmer, settled on the plains, and died in one of the sickly seasons. He had three sons. The oldest of these, Jasper R. Converse, owned a large farm in the prairie lands and was a dealer in stock, but made a specialty in growing thoroughbred sheep. He died in 1850. His only son living, Augustin Converse, a resident of Columbus, is very wealthy, a real estate dealer and owning stock in the Wassal Fire Clay Company. Edwin Converse died many years ago, and his descendants are quite numerous in Union County. Asa Converse was a farmer, which business he followed for several years. At present. he is a resident of Plain City, and doing an extensive mercantile business. He is also the owner of a beautiful farm on the plains, upon which his son is now living. Lathrop Converse lived on the plains until his death in 1822, one of the sickly seasons. He had three sons. The oldest of these, Darius Converse was a resident of the township for many years. Prior to his death, he removed to Union City, Ind. His second son, Joel N. Converse, was a practicing physician in this and Union Counties. He located in Union City and there became connected with a railroad enterprise and is now a resident of Lincoln, Neb. Orinda, daughter of Rev. Mr. Converse, married Samuel Sherwood, who lived in Canaan Township until his death, which took place quite early in the history of that township. He has one son living – A. H. Sherwood, a resident of Plain City. Here several of the descendants of this family are living some of whom are prominent business men of the place.
Jeremiah Converse, Jr.. a native of Vermont, and son of the Rev. Mr. Converse, was born in 1790; married Malinda Derby, a descendant of the titled family of Derbys in England, in
1813. Here was born to them one son. He emigrated with his and his father's family to Darby Township in 1814. This journey, a distance of nearly one thousand miles, required eight weeks to accomplish. This was truly a trying and difficult as well as dangerous, undertaking. But then a place, a home to call their own, the thoughts of which instilled new life at each returning day. Thus, day after day, they toiled on to their journeys end. For several years some of these lived to enjoy "home," with all its endearments. Others again, in a few brief years, fell victims to disease and death. This man was the father of a large family. and, like others of his day, suffered many privations incident to pioneer life. He bought a small farm of Walter Dun, for $1.25 per acre, and even at this price it took him nine years to complete his payments. He was Drum Major in the militia regiment of this county, under the then existing military laws of the State. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for thirty years or more. His motto was honesty and Christian integrity. He died in 1849. His oldest son. C. D. Converse, was born in 1814. Until within a few years, he has always been a resident of this township. Through industry and economy a competency has been saved to relieve him from the pressing care of his declining years. He is now the owner of a beautiful farm in Deer Creek Township, upon which he resides.
Jeremiah Converse, better known as Dr. J. Converse, was born in Darby Township in the year 1822 upon the same farm which he now owns in part. He married Miss Hortense S. Hemenway, a native of Vermont, in 1844; practiced medicine for twenty-five years, and, with the exception of four or five years, has always been a resident of this township. His complete biography will appears in another part of this work. L. D. Converse, the youngest son, was born in 1820. He is living about two miles from Plain City. His farm is beautifully situated and his surroundings inviting; the soil is fertile and productive, well adapted to mixed agriculture. The leading business of his life has been the production of wool. His biography will appear in another place.
Silas Converse was a young man when he emigrated with his father in 1814 to Darby, with whom he lived for several years thereafter. He married four wives. In his first and second marriage there were no children. His third wife was a Gorham, by whom he had a son and daughter; the former is a resident of Hardin County, and the latter of Union. For his fourth wife, he married the widow of Daniel Bowers, who was the mother of John P. and S. W. Bowers, of this township. From this union there was one son, Sanford Converse, a resident of Plain City, and doing business in a livery, feed and sale stable. This pioneer father was not a member of any church, but for veracity, uprightness and charity, he had no superior. The hungry were fed, the naked clothed, the sick cared for, indeed, the "latch-string of his door" always hung out. He died at the ripe age of eighty-six years.
Charles Converse, the youngest son of the Rev. Mr. Converse, was quite young when they came to Darby. When but a child, the effects of inflammatory rheumatism made him a cripple for life, requiring the use of crutches in walking. Soon after his marriage, he purchased a farm on the plains, which was successfully managed. Stock-raising was his principal business, the profits of which were carefully husbanded, and at death he had a competency for his family. He died in 1869. Of his three sons, James N. Converse is a resident of Canaan. R. B. Converse is a resident of Darby, and living at the home of his childhood, having made some important additions thereto. He is a practical and successful farmer. His biography will appear elsewhere. Charles Converse, Jr., the youngest son, enlisted in the war of the rebellion, on the first call for three months' men; served his time, came home, raised a company for three years' service, and was elected First Lieutenant, and afterward promoted to Captain of Company D, Fortieth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was in several engagements, among them the hard-fought battle of Chickamauga, and was killed at the battle of Kenesaw Mountain, Ga., which
took place June 30. 1864.
Abner Newton, Sr., with his family, emigrated from the State of Vermont to this township in the year 1814, and purchased a farm in the Converse settlement. He was a wheelwright and chair manufacturer. The demand of the times for that class of articles made him prominent in this part of the country. His wheels, both great and small, were unsurpassed. They were a necessary article in almost every family. On these wheels the women spun their tow and linen, as well as the woolen yarns, from which all the clothing was made. He also manufactured hand looms, by which these yarns were converted into cloth. The clothing for summer wear, for both men and women, consisted of tow and linen, and for winter, linsey and woolen. The chairs manufactured by him were, perhaps, in less demand and were purchased as the people became able. The more common seat used was a long bench, or three-legged stools. Prior to and after the death of Mr. Newton, his youngest son, Abner Newton, Jr.. continued to manufacture the above articles so long as they were in demand, or until machinery supplied their place. After the demand for these articles had ceased, he became quite an extensive manufacturer of boots and shoes, and partly in connection with it, or soon thereafter, he dealt in dry goods, groceries, etc. This traffic was continued for a few years, and finally, he physically broke down and retired from all business.
He is still living at the old home, his farm being managed by his son-in-law.
Albert Newton, the eldest of these sons, married a sister of Dr. Charles McCloud. He settled in the same neighborhood, and, by industry and frugality, he became quite wealthy. He was an exemplary man, strictly honest, and a zealous worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he was a member for many years. He died as he lived, a firm believer in the truth of his convictions. His only child, a daughter, married Thomas Jones, formerly one of the Directors of the Plain City Bank, but now a resident of Delaware County.
Daniel Bowers came to this township in the year 1814. He first settled near the present village of Amity, being a single man at the time of his emigration, but within a few years thereafter he married Diadama Phiney, a young lady that came with Abel Beach and family in the same year. Mr. Bowers was a millwright and was employed by Frederick Sager to put up the building and make all the necessary machinery for a water-power grist mill. This was the first mill of the kind ever put up in this part of the county. It was situated about one mile north of Plain City, on Big Darby, which at the time was in this township, but now in Union County. The grinding-stone made use of in this mill was a bowlder taken from the farm of John Taylor, being worked and dressed into proper shape by Mr. Sager himself. This part of the machinery was used for many years, being almost equal to the French buhr. He was afterward employed by Uri Beach to build a saw-mill, and soon after a carding-machine. This latter was run by horse-power. The nature of the tread-power used was truly a novelty. It consisted of a large wheel, perhaps twenty feet in diameter, with a strong center shaft and iron journals and bearings. Into this shaft strong arms were framed, extending about ten feet from the center, and well braced underneath, and the whole covered with a tight floor. The wheel was then set
inclined on one side much lower than the other. The horses were harnessed, taken upon the floor and hitched to a stationery post or beam; hence the act of pulling revolved the wheel beneath their feet, and thus the machinery was set in motion. This was a wonderful achievement over the former method of carding all the wool for their clothing by hand. In the settlement by the Government of some of the Indian reservations, Mr. Bowers was employed by the agency as an interpreter. being the only person here that understood the Wyandot language. He therefore went considerable time in the settlement of these claims. His trade being insufficient for the support of himself and family, he purchased a farm in the Converse settlement. where he lived until his death, in 1834. There were three children of this family – two sons and a daughter – the oldest of these, John P. Bowers, is residing at the home of his youth. He is a man of prominence, and has held many positions of trust in the gift of the people. He has been elected to the office of Trustee many times at different intervals; also Township Assessor, Real Estate Assessor, and to the office of Justice of the Peace for twenty-seven years. His educational advantages were very limited, but a retentive memory and good judgment have given him prominence among the people. His biography will appear in the proper place. S. W. Bowers, the youngest of these sons, owns a farm on the plains, beautifully situated, rich and fertile. He is industrious and economical, and carefully husbanded his yearly profits. His home is inviting and tasty, and, but for the ruthless hand of death, his declining years would have been pillowed on the bosom of happiness and ease.
In the year 1814, Charles Warner moved to the plains and purchased the farm now owned by I. A. Converse. Here Mr. Warner followed the agricultural pursuits. In connection with his
farming operations he had a distillery, where he manufactured whisky and peach brandy for the market. The principal trading points were Chillicothe, Sandusky, Zanesville and a few others of less importance. He usually kept three or four yoke of cattle, which were used in wagoning the products of his still to these points, taking in exchange salt, glass and such other articles as were in demand. In the spring of the year, with his ox team, he broke large quantities of prairie sod for the farmers, which was very difficult to plow with an ordinary team. He died quite early in the history of the township. There are none of his descendants in this county. Charles Adams, a step-son of Mr. Warner, accompanied him to this county and purchased a farm adjoining, where he lived until about the year 1836. He then moved to
Union County, where he died. His descendants are residents of that county. In the year 1810, David Clement emigrated to this township and purchased a farm on the plains. He made the agricultural pursuits the means of supporting himself and family, and was the first to introduce the propriety of sowing down the cultivated fields in tame grass. He therefore procured a small quantity of red-top seed, which was sown on a piece of corn land. Its luxuriant growth and beautiful appearance was the wonder and admiration of the farming community. The oldest son living is a resident of Columbus, Ohio.
In the year 1814, Charles McCloud, Sr.. emigrated to Darby Township and bought a farm on the plains, lying adjacent to the post road. Here he supported his family from the products of his farm. His farm products were of a mixed character. Like others, however, the grazing of cattle was found to be the more remunerative; therefore, in the latter part of his life, this was made a specialty. After the death of his wife, he sold his home, and lived the balance of his days with his children. He died at his son-in-law's in 1844. He was the father of two sons. The oldest of these, Curtis McCloud, married and lived on a small farm in the Converse settlement until his death. His oldest son is the present John C. McCloud, Esq., of London.
Charles McCloud, the youngest of these sons, lived and worked on the farm of his father until of age, at which time his inclination and desire for a profession induced him to select the science of medicine as being the most congenial to his nature. To accomplish this object, he went to Granville and studied medicine under a physician of that place, Dr. Alpheus Bigelow. After completing his studies, he returned and settled in Amity, and for many years, by close application and undivided attention, he was not only a successful physician, but a shining ornament to the profession. His skill in the treatment of diseases gave him notoriety and an extended field of usefulness. But, like many others in a new country like this, with almost impassable roads at times, he became weary of the hardships incident to the profession; therefore, he longed for a more retired and less responsible life. To accomplish this, he, in company with Wesley Carpenter, purchased quite an extensive tract of land below Amity, with a view of making stock-raising and farming a specialty; but, by a few years' experience in this new enterprise, he was convinced of the fact that bone and muscle, especially in those days, were among the essential features of success. He therefore sold his interest in the farm to Mr. Carpenter, and immediately purchased a large stock of dry goods and groceries, and entered into business at Amity. Here he remained until after that place was visited by the Asiatic cholera. Some of his own family were among those that were victims of this terrible epidemic. He subsequently sold his property and purchased in
Plain City, where he engaged largely in the mercantile trade. In 1841, he was elected member of the Ohio State Legislature, which position he filled creditably to himself and satisfactorily to his constituents. He was a prominent politician, and more or less engaged in discussing the political issues of the day. In the great political contest of 1840, Dr. McCloud was the prominent politician of the county. His position and activity during this campaign gave him eminence as a political speaker. The renown won during this and subsequent campaigns so favorably impressed the minds of the people in his behalf that, when the call was made for a new constitution, by an overwhelming majority Dr. McCloud was the people's choice as a member of the Constitutional Convention of Ohio. He never played the part of a drone in the high political positions conferred upon him by the people, but was ever watchful in guarding the interests and liberties of his constituents. But alas! the stern decree, "Dust thou art!" Ah, death! thou didst mark him as thy victim; and in the midst of a life of usefulness and honor he was called to bid adieu to earth. Many were the sorrowing hearts when it was announced. "Dr. Charles McCloud is dead." He died at his home in Plain City, in the year 1860. His widow is yet living, and a resident of that place. There were two sons – the eldest, R. C. McCloud, a resident of Plain City, and an active business man of that place. In the year 1874, he was elected a member of the State Legislature, and is an active worker in the political party to which he belongs. His business occupation is that of a druggist, and among the oldest establishments of Plain City. The youngest, Newton McCloud is a resident of Marysville, Union County. He also is largely engaged in the drug trade, and these establishments are owned in copartnership by the brothers.
Very early in the settlement of the country, Titus Dort cane to Darby Township and purchased a farm about one mile south of Plain City, devoting a part of his time to the agricultural pursuits. But, as he was a blacksmith by trade, the most of his time for many years was spent in the latter business, it being a very important trade at this time, as the people were dependent upon the common blacksmith for most of their farm implements, such as trace-chains, hoes, axes. plows, and many other necessary and indispensable articles. Many of these farm implements were truly cumbersome, but they supplied a link in the chain of necessity. Late in life, Mr. Dort moved to Frankfort, Union County, where he died many years ago. A few of his descendants are living in the latter county.
In the year 1818, Samuel Smith, with a large family, came from the State of Vermont to Ohio, and settled in this township. He purchased a large tract of land, containing about six hundred acres. Mr. Smith (but more familiarly known by. the name of Elder Smith, being a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church), being quite advanced in life, intrusted the management of the farm to his sons, devoting his time to the lighter work and the ministry of the Gospel. He, with many others, kept quite a number of cows, for the purpose of raising cattle, and also for the profits arising from butter and cheese. The Elder built the first brick house on the plains, which is still occupied, and in good condition. The roof of this house was made of pine shingles, purchased in Cincinnati, from the dairy products, and wagoned through an almost
trackless wilderness, requiring two weeks or more to make the round trip.
James and John Smith, two of his sons, finally became the owners of the old homestead, and dealt quite extensively in cattle, giving their time and attention to their herds. They were among the first in this part of the county to introduce blooded stock, with a view to the improvement of the native cattle of the West. To more perfectly facilitate this improvement, an importing company was organized in this and Union Counties by taking shares therein. The money so raised was expended in the purchase of cattle from the best herds in Europe. This enterprise was not only profitable to the stockholders, but produced a wonderful revolution in the minds of the people as to the comparative value of the different grades of cattle. The large numbers of bovines that may be seen grazing on the prairies, with their line proportions, is
due to the efforts of this class of men. These men continued in the cattle business for many years, but finally John sold his farm and removed to Urbana, Champaign Co., Ohio, where he died a few years since. James also went to Urbana at the same time, but, not selling his farm on the plains, he soon returned, where, in company with his son, they are still engaged in the cattle business, and are now residents of Union County. There were three other sons of Elder Smith, Baily and Samuel, Jr., lived here for a few years, and then moved to Franklin and Licking Counties. Richard, the youngest of these brothers, through industry and economy in his younger days, became the owner of a good farm on the plains, but, by the dire effects of disease, that incapacitated him for the active duties of life, he gave his property into the hands of his children, with whom he lived until his death.
Simeon Hager was born in 1766; emigrated to Ohio and settled in this township in 1814. He soon thereafter purchased a farm near Plain City. His occupation was that of farming. He was highly respected for his Christian integrity and uprightness, a peaceable, quiet and inoffensive man. He died at his home in 1843. Those of his sons that were residents in the State were Simeon Hager, Jr., a surveyor by profession, who lived and died in Plain City; Baldwin Hager was a resident of Union County at his death; Braynard is now a resident of Woods County. Aurelius Hager, the youngest son, was the owner of a portion of the old homestead. This property quite recently was surveyed into lots, and is embraced in Hager & Lombard's Addition to Plain City. He is a carpenter by trade, and highly esteemed for his uprightness. He was a soldier in the war of the rebellion.
In the year 1817, Isaac Bigelow came to this part of Ohio and purchased a tract of land, a portion of which embraces the territory in part now comprising the town of Plain City. This purchase was made with a view of making it a stock farm; but the tide of emigration seemed to be in the direction of Central Ohio. The principal trading, points then were Zanesville, Chillicothe, Cincinnati and Sandusky. There were, however, a few other smaller and less important places of trade. From the cities above mentioned the early settlers purchased their salt, glass, nails, as well as many other necessary articles for the family. For the future convenience and development of this part of the county, Mr. Bigelow conceived the idea of laying out a town, to meet the demands and wants of the people. Accordingly, in the year 1818, the original town was laid out, but a more minute description will be given in the proper place. Mr. Bigelow, being a physician by profession, made the practice of medicine a specialty for many years. He, however retired from the active business affairs of life, and lived many years in the enjoyment of home in his newly laid out town.
Dr. Daniel Bigelow, a brother to Isaac, came here in the year 1831. His whole life was spent in the active labors of a practicing physician. He was ever ready to attend all calls in his profession, and his greatest delight was embodied in his efforts to mitigate the sufferings of his fellow creatures, or cheer them as they approached the dark valley to the tomb. He was sociable, pleasing and winning in his manner; his presence in the sick-room dispersed the gloom of his patients; and in a word, cheerfulness was traceable in every lineament of his features. His office and residence were on his farm. In his death, not only his family relatives suffered a bereavement, but the community in which he lived felt deeply their loss.
Israel Bigelow, the father of Isaac and Daniel, came here in 1828, and purchased property in Plain City. He also was a physician, and for several years practiced medicine in Plain City and its surroundings. Though advanced in life, he was ever willing to visit the sick and render professional aid. He died in Plain City in 1838. I. E. Bigelow, the only one living here, was the son of Dr. Daniel Bigelow. He is the owner in part of the homestead of his youth. Farming has been his principal occupation. At one time, however, in connection with it, he was engaged in the mercantile business in Plain City. His biography will appear in the proper place.
Eber McDowell came to this township in the year 1818, and purchased a farm abort two miles west of the Converse settlement. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. The regiment to which he belonged was ordered to reenforce the troops at Plattsburg, but arrived too late to participate in the bloody contest. At the battle of Lake Erie, his regiment, with others, was guarding the approach and landing of the British forces on the American shore, where he witnessed on the lake the hard-fought battle of Commodore Perry's victory. He was full of the patriotic spirit of '76, and when the Southern rebellion broke out, as old as he was, he was anxious to shoulder the musket and march to the battle-field in defense of the stars and stripes. With others, he experienced much of the hard times incident to the early settlers. Though the price of land was seemingly very low, yet all the farm products were correspondingly reduced; and in order to make the last payment for his home, he sold and delivered 200 bushels of corn to Mr. Wright, of Dublin, Franklin County, for 10 cents per bushel. This delivery was made by wagoning, with a heavy pair of cattle, a distance of fifteen miles, requiring two days to make a round trip. These cattle were also sold to the same party for $27. The money thus obtained enabled him to procure a deed for the farm on which he spent his days. He died at the advanced age of ninety-six years. Samuel McDowell, the only child living, became the owner of the home of his youth, and was a resident of this township for fifty years or more. He made farming a success. In the decline of life, he retired from active business, sold his farm, and is now a resident of the city of Columbus, owning stock in the Wassal Fire Clay Company of that city. There are a few of the descendants of this family residents of Plain City. The most, if not all, are the children and grandchildren of T. L. McDowell, the most of whose life was spent in this township. He was a mechanic, devoting his time to his trade, and for many years a resident of Plain City.
Amos Beach emigrated from Vermont to this township in 1814. He was the owner of a small farm on the plains, where he lived and successfully managed until about the year 1830. Selling his property here, he purchased land in Jerome Township, Union County. He laid out the town of Pleasant Hill, but afterward called Frankfort. Here he lived for many years, or until after the death of his wife. He then became a resident of Plain City, where he died a few years since. In the year 1810, Abner and David Chapman, two brothers, came to this township. The former of these purchased a farm near Plain City, where he resided for a few years. Being a man of good education, a portion of his time for several years was devoted to school-teaching. He, however, sold this farm and purchased another on the banks of Big Darby. In the creation of Union County in 1820, he was included in the territory of said county. David Chapman, a young man of good education, and a surveyor by profession, taught school, and
did a large amount of surveying for Walter Dun, of Virginia. At this time, there were pieces or parcels of land that had been unentered by former speculators. Many of these were now entered and patented by Mr. Chapman. He subsequently married a daughter of Joshua Ewing, and for several years thereafter lived at his farm on the plains. He, however, moved to Union County, and from thence to the State of Iowa.
William McCune, a step-son of Andrew Noteman, came with the latter in 1803, who settled on the east bank of Big Darby, immediately opposite to the Indian village or camping-grounds
above referred to. Mr. Noteman lived here for many years. In the creation of Union County, he was included in its territory. But the step-son above referred to commenced early in life to support himself. At the age of twelve years, he went to Franklinton to learn the blacksmith's trade. Here he remained for some time, and assisted in forging the nails that were used in building the old State House at Columbus. The clay for the first bricks made here was taken from the mound near what is now Mound street, Columbus. Mr. McCune afterward went to Buck Creek and learned the tanning business, and, after completing his trade, he came back, purchased and moved on a farm near Plain City. Mr. McCune's tannery was one among the first in this part of the county. Here was a want kindly appreciated by the people, and his thorough knowledge of the business, in connection with his honesty, won for him a large proportion of the custom of the county. A few years prior to his death, he became entirely blind. His home was cut off from Darby in 1820.
Richard Morgridge, with his family, emigrated from the State of Connecticut to Licking County, Ohio, in the year 1816. Here he was compelled to remain, in consequence of sickness in his family. He was a man of some property. He emigrated with a good pair of horses and wagon, and with him he brought a large box of Yankee clocks, being purchased very cheap in his native State, but were here sold at great profit. All this property was soon converted into cash; but, being on many different bank issues, he went to Marietta, and there exchanged it for the Muskingum Valley Bank notes of that place. Within a very short time thereafter, this banking house broke and closed business, being entirely insolvent. Consequently, his property was gone and he made penniless. Here he remained for three years, but the sickness of his family incurred expenses that he was unable to meet. In 1819 he purchased a yoke of oxen, and with them moved his family to this township. He contracted with Walter Dun for a farm of 130 acres, about one mile west of the Converse settlement. The debts incurred in Licking County were still hanging over him, and his creditors came and attached all his chattel property; but, this being
insufficient to satisfy the claims, his body also was taken by the Sheriff. to be lodged in the county jail for debt. But, before leaving home with the officer, his wife placed in his hands all the money in their possession being $1.30. After they had proceeded some distance it occurred to Mr. Morgridge that the law required the creditor to support the debtor while in jail, if he had no means of supporting himself. Therefore, he made an excuse to stop by the roadside, where he secretly placed his money under a rail in the fence, near a large tree. After their arrival at London, a search was instituted, and he was found without any means of supporting himself. The creditor was then required to give bonds for the maintenance of the prisoner while in jail, and this he refused to do, whereupon Mr. Morgridge was set free. Richard Morgridge never completed the payments for his farm, but, after his death, the family met those obligations. In this family there were nine children, all of whom are dead but three. The oldest of those living is J. Bailey Morgridge, now living at the old homestead. He was born in Connecticut, in 1814. His educational advantages were very limited, having never studied grammar or geography in the schoolroom. His education, which is by no means limited, was obtained by a diligent application of his time at home. His comprehensive knowledge of the different branches of education secured for him the position of teacher in many of the subdistricts in this part of Madison County. The winter months were devoted to teaching, and the summer to farming. This was continued for many years, making the whole
time spent in teaching equal to three and a fourth years.
There were others whose descendants have long since emigrated to remote or unknown parts, and among those were Marquis, Petty, Nickels. Frazell, and perhaps some others that were among the pioneers of Darby. The emigration to this part of the county from 1812 to 1820 was truly wonderful, as is evident from the preceding history. The larger portion of emigrants were from the New England States, the soil of which was so inferior to that of this county that the latter became proverbial for its fertility and productiveness. Prior to 1822, the prospective outlook for a rapid and early development of her resources was truly battering; but alas! all those bright anticipations in 1822 and 1823 were followed by an impenetrable cloud of gloom, draped with disease and death that threatened depopulation, a description of which will be found in the general history of the county. The shock thus produced was severely felt all over the county, but more especially in Darby and Canaan Townships. There was no more emigration until 1830 and 1832. The only occupants from 1823 to 1830 were the survivors of those two sickly seasons, and even some of those returned to their native States or settled elsewhere A large per cent of the present inhabitants of Darby Township are descendants of these pioneer families.
A few of the leading early settlers will receive a passing notice. E. W. Barlow, Sr., was a soldier in the war of 1812, and Major of a regiment of militia volunteers. He was ordered to New Orleans, and was in the battle fought there by Gen. Jackson. Maj. Barlow came to this township in 1830 and purchased a farm on Sugar Run, where he lived for many years. He subsequently came to Plain City, and here died. In the year 1828, Jesse Lombard, with a large family, came from Kentucky to this township. His farm purchase was made on the plains, where he followed dairying and stock-raising for many years. In the decline of life, he sold this farm and moved to Plain City, where he died in 1875. Farmery Hemenway, a native of the Green Mountain State, emigrated with his large family to Darby in 1830. His farm was situated about two miles southwest of Plain City. He was the most extensive dairyman on the prairies, shipping the products to Columbus and other markets. He was for many years a Justice of the Peace, a man of untarnished character and sterling worth. He subsequently became a resident of Union County, where he died in 1872. The most of this large family are dead. The only one living in this township is the wife of Dr. J. Converse.
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