Madison County History and Genealogy

History and Genealogy



History of Madison County


West Jefferson


From Atlas of Madison County, J.A. Caldwell [Condit, Ohio, 1875]

Page 9

The town of Jefferson is situated in a township of the same name, fourteen miles west of Columbus, on the Columbus and Xenia Railroad, and the National Road. The first effort at a town here was called Hamden, and was just south of where John Heath's house now stands; but upon the location of the National Road, in 1830, Isaac Jones, father of C.C. and Wm. Jones, laid out the town of Jefferson, and the town of Hamden was abandoned, most of the houses being moved over to the new town. The first house built in the new town was a part of that now occupied by Dr. Wilson. The first house built for business purposes was a part of what has been known for forty years as the "Mantle House." In this house Mr. Dalby opened the first tavern, and also commenced selling goods. John Simpkins, father of Gaines Simpkins, was the next to open a tavern, whcih he did on the lot where now stands the American. The first blacksmith in the new town was Geo. W. Lewis, now our venerable mayor, who worked in a shop where his office now stands.

The first physician in the place was Dr. David Wilson, who still lives here, although not practising his profession for the last twenty years.

The first effort at manufacturing here was in the shape of a carding-machine and grist-mill, erected by John Mills, on Little Darby, near where Mr. A.R. Hains now lives, as early as 1817. Next came the carding-machine and saw-mill built by Isaac Jones, in the corporation.

For many years after the completion of the National Road, the town grew rapdily, and for twenty years it was the most important point in the county. An immense emigration West, passing over the great road just opened, kept the half-dozen hotels crowded, while the great number of coaches between Columbus and Cincinnati always gave the place a lively appearance. A large business was also done in packing beef and pork by Dr. Jennet Stutson, two large flouring-mills were established, and a large wholesale dry goods trade was built up by Dr. Bliss, father of D.W. Bliss. The completion of the railroad, in 1850, put an end to prosperity. It now has a population of 800, and although not increasing much in the last few years, is yet a very desirable place for trade. It has three very complete dry goods stores, six grocery stores, two drug stores, one shoe store, one large wagon shop, three blacksmith shops, three churches, one large Union-school building, in which five teachers are employed, one saw-mill, one flouring-mill, four physicians, and one lawyer. At an early day, a fort or block-house was built on the east banks of Little Darby, about twenty rods south of where the National Road crosses the creek, near where the town now stands.

From The History of Madison County, Ohio, R. C. Brown, et. al., W. H. Beers & Co. [Chicago, 1883]

Page 641

In an early day, the settlers needed a point closer than Franklinton for some one to keep in store such necessaires as were likely to be handled by the pioneer merchant. In consequence, on July 5, 1822, Samuel Jones and Samuel Sexton acknowledged the original plat of New Hampton and signing of deed, before Justice A. Burnham. there were three streets east and west, viz., Main, North and South streets, each sixty feet wide; two alleys east and west, viz., Jones and Sexton. The streets north and south were five in number, and the first three were each sixty feet in width, and the last two mentioned were forty-nine and a half — Friend, Center, Pearl, Union and Prairie. There were ninety-three lots, mostly four by ten poles in size. The town had accumulated a store or two, two or three taverns, a post office, about seven families, and a Baptist Church, most of which have heretofore been spoken of. It was not long after the National pike was opened until all business and dwellings were moved to the great road, and the pioneer village, save the church, sank into utter oblivion. Benjamin Pike, one of Hampton's citizens, was Postmaster, hotel-keeper, and for a number of years served in the State Legislature, as what they termed "Second Mate."

Since the town of New Hampton was the beginning of Jefferson, we deem it not inappropriate to continue the history of the last-named village, which is frequently improperly called West Jefferson, in consequence of the post office being so named. The town was laid out in September, 1831, by Rev. Isaac Jones, who owned the land. The lots, sixty-four in number, were surveyed in the same fall, by James Millikin, father of the hardware merchant of this place, at this writing. Unlike most villages, a few years only elapsed until, on April 24, 1834, dates the first meeting of the Town Council at the post office to incorporate the place and have special laws and government, as the citizens deemed advisable.

At this meeting, John W. Simpkins was chosen President; David Wilson, Recorder; and the following the Common Council: David Mortimore, Ferrin H. Olmsteadt, James Roberts, Wilson Graham, Abraham Hare, Joseph Powers; the last-named was chosen Marshal. Ezekial Arnett was appointed the first Street Supervisor.

The first ordinance the Council passed was to charge circus shows, etc., the sum of $10 license for every twenty-four hours' exhibition. At the same meeting, they passed an ordinance to charge a grocery-keeper the sum of $35 license a year. In May, 1834, the Council passed an ordinance that the President should have for his services and stationery annually $12; Recorder, $10; Marshal, $5; and Treasurer, $5. The second meeting of the Council, all members were present save Olmsteadt, who, by motion of Abraham Hare, was fined $1 for non-attendance. Subsequently, James Roberts was also fined $1 for non-attendance, but it was refunded to both in August of 1834. The first calaboose was built in 1834, at a cost of about $60.

The new town soon grew to be of considerable importance, in consequence of the National road, just completed, and ere a great while it was not an uncommon occurrence to see daily the five hotels thronged with travel and the street lined with stages and horses. Among the early merchants were Mr. Dolby, who built the Mantle House, keeping tavern and store in the same building. Thomas Mortimore, J. W. Simpkins, W. J. Black, J. Hancock, W. Graham, Nathan C. Davis, who associated with Calvin Horr. Abraham Hare was a hatter by trade, and opened business in the new town. J. W. or Squire Simpkins kept the first post office, which was designated West Jefferson. The town seemed to grow rapidly, and large business firms located here. In fact, at one time it was the leading business point in the county.

In 1846, O. H. Bliss, with his father, Dr. Bliss, established a large wholesale and retail dry goods trade, but, during their mercantile career, Dr. Bliss died, and the business finally became extinct. Mills, a pork-house and other establishments were erected and successfully carried on, but when the Little Miami Railroad was completed through the place, it demoralized the trade of the National pike and badly affected the business of the village, which had sprung up as a blossom, now to wither and die. The town contains a population of about eight hundred, four churches, a good school building, six physicians, several dry goods and grocery stores, two drug stores, one carriage factory and two blacksmith shops, two hardware stores, an undertaker, one hotel and a number of saloons.

Jefferson, by the statistics of the railroad, is increasing in business, as can be seen by the following receipts of West Jefferson Station way bills for the year ending December, 1875, which was $4,515.54; for 1878, it was $5,934.97; and 1881 it was $6,261.03. The receipts for tickets sold in 1878 were $3,642.60; and for the year ending December, 1881, $4,972.70, which shows a steady increase both in travel and goods received at the station.

The railroad traverses the township from east to west, making a distance in the territory of about six miles.

From History of Madison County, Ohio, Chester E. Bryan, Supervising Editor, B.F. Bowen & Co., Indianapolis (1915)

West Jefferson was first laid out and called New Hampton. When the first settlers located in this part of the county, their closest town or trading point was at Franklinton (now Columbus), a distance of fifteen to twenty miles, for some of the pioneers, and over mud roads. It was decided to lay out a place in the township, where some one would keep in store such necessaries as were likely to be handled by a pioneer merchant. In consequence, on July 5, 1822, Samuel Jones and Samuel Sexton acknowledged the original plat of New Hampton and the signing of the deed, before Justice A. Burnham, and it was recorded July 13, of the same year. There were three streets east and west, viz., Main, North and South streets, each sixty feet wide, and two alleys east and west, viz. Jones and Sexton. The streets north and south were five in number: the first three, Friend, Center and Pearl, were each sixty feet in width, and the latter two, Union and Prairie, were forty-nine and one-half in width. There were ninety-three lots in the first and only plat of New Hampton, mostly four by ten poles in size. The town, at the height of its prosperity, consisted of a store or two, two or three taverns, a postoffice, about seven families and a Baptist church. Soon after this hamlet was opened up, a Mr. Gilmore started a store, referred to in the preceding paragraph. It is generally believed that Benjamin Pike kept the postoffice and tavern in New Hampton as early as 1825. Another tavern was kept in New Hampton by a widow lady, whose name is given as Tacy Widener. Soon after the building of the National road, in 1836-37, all business houses and dwellings were moved to the great road, and the pioneer village was abandoned.

West Jefferson was first called Jefferson and, in reality, still bears this name, as the records show, but the postoffice was called West Jefferson and common usage has given the town this name also. It is very probable that steps will be taken in the near future to change this name by law to West Jefferson.

The town was laid out on September 13, 1830, by Rev. Isaac Jones, who owned the land. The first plat called for sixty-four lots and was surveyed in the fall of the same year by James Millikan. Unlike most towns, only a few years elapsed until, on April 24, 1834, the first meeting was held for the incorporation of the village. This meeting was held at the postoffice and motions were passed to have special laws and town government, as the citizens deemed advisable. At this meeting John W. Simpkins was chosen president; David Wilson, recorder; David Mortimore, Ferrin H. Olmsteadt, James. Roberts, Wilson Graham, Abraham Hare and Joseph Powers were chosen common council; Joseph Powers was chosen marshal and Ezekiel Arnett was appointed the first street supervisor.

The first ordinance the council passed was to charge circus shows, etc., the sum of ten dollars license for every twenty-four hours' exhibition. At the same meeting they passed an ordinance to charge a grocery-keeper the sum of thirty-five dollars license a year. In May, 1834, the council passed an ordinance that the president should have for his services and stationery annually, twelve dollars; recorder, ten dollars; marshal, five dollars, and treasurer, five dollars. At the second meeting of the council all members for non-attendance. Subsequently, James Roberts was also fined one dollar for non-attendance, but this sum was refunded to both in August, 1834. The first calaboose was were present save Olmsteadt, who, by motion of Abraham Hare, was fined one dollar built in 1835, at a cost of about sixty dollars.

The new town soon grew to be of considerable importance, in consequence of the opening of the National road, and ere a great while it was not an uncommon occurrence to see daily the five hotels thronged with travelers and the street lined with stages and horses. Among the early merchants were Mr. Dalby, who built the Mantel house, keeping tavern and store in the same building; Thomas Mortimore, J. W. Simpkins, W. J. Black, J. Hancock, W. Graham and Nathan C. Davis, who was associated with Calvin Horr. Abraham Hare was a hatter by trade and opened up the first business of this kind in the town. J. W. ("Squire") Simpkins kept the first postoffice, which was designated West Jefferson, having moved his office from New Hampton. The town seemed to grow rapidly and large business firms located here. At one time it was the leading business point in the county.

In 1846, with his father. Doctor Bliss established a large wholesale and retail dry goods trade in Jefferson, but, at the height of their mercantile trade, Doctor Bliss died, and the business finally became extinct. The population of the village at this time was six or seven hundred. Stage coaches did a thriving business and the freight, to and from the village, was hauled in wagons drawn by four and six horses. There were two hatteries, which made hats and caps from the fur of wild animals caught in the woods. There were two slaughter houses, run by Jeannette Stutson and Crabb & Parks. These did a flourishing local business and killed all the hogs raised in the immediate neighborhood. These two firms later built two grist-mills after the completion of the Pennsylvania railroad, in 1850, and shipped flour and feed to distant parts. The first mill was equipped with four sets of burrs and they did an extensive local business, utilizing all the wheat grown in this section. There were also two tanneries, owned by E. S. Hancock and Balser Mantel. They did a large local business and furnished the shoe makers with their leather for boots and shoes. At that time the shoemaker "whipped the cat"—going to a farm house, where he took the measurements for shoes and boots for the entire family and remained until he had them all fitted out. There was also a carding-mill in Jefferson, which was run by Charles C. Jones. The farmers brought in their wool and it was carded into rolls some two feet long by an inch in diameter. This mill was patronized by the entire east side of the township. Later other establishments were erected and carried on, but when the Little Miami railroad was completed through West Jefferson, it demoralized the travel on the National road and badly affected the business of the village. Goods could now be shipped in and sold cheaper than they could be manufactured at home and the local industries began to disappear. For a time the village was at a standstill, but, with the coming of new settlers and the advanced changes in conditions, which began to be taken advantage of in this little village, new life began to spring up. The railroad has been a great advantage to the town and this has been increased by the building of the Ohio Electric line from Columbus to Springfield. This was completed in 1905 and is the main line of this road. In 1913-14 the Pennsylvania railroad raised its tracks through the town and now all the roads and streets go under the tracks. This is a great advantage, as it alleviates the possibility of accidents and also takes the tracks off the streets.

West Jefferson at present is a flourishing town of one thousand seventy population. Work has already begun on paving the main street, which will extend almost a mile in length and cost forty-two thousand dollars. A new high school building was erected in 1911, at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars, and the children of this town are accommodated with the best possible facilities for acquiring a preparatory education. The building is modern and up-to-date in every respect and is an evidence of the interest and desire of the citizens of the town to furnish their children with the proper facilities for education. The town hall and opera house was erected in 1898, at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars. It is a modern and very beautiful building and affords opportunities for public meetings and shows, having a seating capacity of six hundred. The city library, postoffice and the offices of the different town officials are all located in this building. The village is supplied with natural gas for lighting purposes, which is piped in from Columbus. Plans are under way to secure electric lighting for the city and residences, as this has already been furnished to the canning factory and elevator. This will be furnished to the city by the Ohio Electric Company. The Commercial Men's Club was organized June 15, 1915, with fifty-two members Dr. L. E. Evans was chosen president; Howard Johnson, secretary, and R. C. Millikin, treasurer. W. J. Burns is the oldest man in the town, with Edward Powell a close second. Mr. Powell was born on July 2, 1828, in Ireland, but came to this country and, after remaining a year or two in Cincinnati, settled in Jefferson on July 4, 1855. He was married in 1858 and has remained in this village since that time, keeping house in the same residence the greater part of that time. L. C. Eglesperger is the oldest resident in the town. He has been a resident for seventy-six years, having been born here in 1839.

The present town ofiicials are: Dr. A. F. Green, mayor; Willard Cullp, clerk; William Redmond, treasurer; Oscar Sprague, marshal; Albert Clark, night watchman; Dr. Lester Olney, P. W. Damson, E. J. Buckley, Forrest Brown, George Baber and George Hana, council. There are four churches and four lodges, which will be referred to specifically in another chapter.

The business and professional directory of the town is as follow: Attorney, E. W. Johnson; agent Pennsylvania railroad, William Redmond; agent Ohio Electric Company, Mary Stickley; bakery, Frank Wise, Harvey Johnson; barbers, Horn Fairman, Woodward, Neighborgall and McNeill; blacksmiths, Oscar Sprague, Mitchell & Miller, Johnson; confectionery, M. W. Stutson; contractor, Frank Moorehead; clothing, M. Keener & Sons; druggist, Z. R. Taylor; dry-goods, Jacob Martin, Harry Sorin, Embrey store, T. C. Gregg, proprietor; dry cleaning, West Jefferson Cleaning Company, Valentine Albrand, proprietor; dentist, H. F. Jackson; elevator, Meyer & Silver, John Murray; factory, Darby Canning Company; furniture and undertaking, W. H. Pence, Jonah E. Barr; garage, Harvey Pence; grist-mill, Jenkins Brothers; groceries, Frank Orders, Baker Brothers, Burrell's grocery; hardware, William Haislett, George Gillivan, Samuel A. Fetter, E. J. Buckley; hotel, Star, John Kubitschack; jeweler, M. Bord; livery barn, William Baber; meat market, Frank Ingel, Groves; physicians, Lester W. Olney, L. E. Evans, A. F. Green; pool room, Jesse Byerly; postmaster, John Bidwell; restaurant, Frank Wise, Lon Reason; saloon, W. H. Wise, William Bengal; shoe shops, John Burns, Jessup; tailor, H. Pugatch; veterinary, Wade Smith.

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