Madison County History and Genealogy

History and Genealogy

History of Madison County

Range Township History

From History of Madison County, W. H. Beers & Co, Chicago, 1883

This township occupies a central position in the southern tier of townships in the county of Madison. It embraces a scope of beautiful country, which, from the earliest advance of civilization, and its occupancy by the whites, had its fine prairies, with their exuberance of grass, occupied by herds of stock which were driven here from Ross County and herded by men hired for that purpose. This afforded the finest of pasturage, adn continued to be occupied in this manner by the extensive stock-dealers of Ross County and other counties, with no cost whatever but to employ men to watch the stock and keep them together upon this broad, unfenced and unbounded expanse of country, till finally the land was so generally taken up by purchasers and actual settlers that those from other counties were debarred from carrying on their former profitable herding business any longer in this portion of country.

This township was early erected and put into full working order. Upon the records of the county at London we find the following, bearing date December 7, 1812:

"At a meeting of the Commissioners of Madison County (on petition), ordered that the following bounds compose a new township, which shall be here after known and designated by the name of Range Township, viz.: Beginning on the county of Fayette at the crossing of the North Fork of Paint Creek; thence to the eight-mile tree on Langham's road; thence with said road westwardly to the line of Union Township; thence with the said line to the southwest corner of Judge Baskerville's survey; and then from the aforesaid place of beginning, west with Fayette County line, to a point one mile east from the crossing of Main Paint; thence northerly to the southwest corner of Judge Baskerville's survey aforesaid."

The surface of the territory composing this township is remarkably level, there being only small portions of it along the creeks, and occasionally a small tract here and there in certain localities, that are undulating, and a few places of small extent that may be called as approching the order of hills. The township is bounded on the north by Paint and Oak Run Townships, east by Pleasant Township, south by Fayette County, and west by Stokes and Paint Townships. It was, as the settlers first found it, possessed of large oak openings and prairies, with some portions, especially along the creeks, heavily timbered. The varieties of timber consisted principally of burr, white and red oak, hickory, walnut, elm and maple, the first two varieties mentioned predominating, and the burr oak growing to a large size, and probably in excess in number of any other variety. In some localities there was an abundance of fine walnut timber, which, in an early day, was cut down and burned on the ground in order to get the land cleared and ready for cultivation. Hundreds and thousands of beautiful logs were piled up at their log-rollings, which, if in possession of the owners of the land to-day, would net them a large income. Most of the timbered land of this section of country was perfectly clear from any brush or undergrowth when the first settlers located here, consituting some of the most beautiful oak groves which the eye ever beheld. This condition was brought about by the effects of the yearly fires, which were set in the grass late in the fall by the Indians, and the entire country burned over for miles in extent in every direction, the object being to give a clear and unobstructed view and opportunity for hunting in the winter season, as game, such as bear, deer, opossum, wild turkeys, etc., were then in great abundance. The contrast between the country then and the timbered portions which remain to-day is remarkable and striking; then so open and beautiful that a man would ride through anywhere and in any direction, on horseback, at a gallop, in the hunt or chase, with no obstructions to their rapid travel; now it is so thick and close with the undergrowth, since it has ceased to be burned over by these fires, that in some sections it is almost impossible for man or beast to get through at all, at the slowest pace.

The soil of this township is very rich and productive, the flat and more level portions being composed of a vegetable soil, very deep, rich and black; while the rolling and more elevated portions are a strong loam and clay soil, excellent for wheat and grass. While the black, rich loam of the flat land is superior for corn, yet, as it becomes older and more thoroughly drained, will also become better for wheat, adn, in fact, for all grains. The leading and most profitable business with the farmers for many years was stock-raising, but of late years, as the land is becoming ditched, tiled and drained, so as to get clear of the abundance of surface water, it is becoming better adapted to the raising of wheat and corn, and the farmers have gone quite extensively into the cultivation of these cereals. This year (1882), they have raised a wonderful crop of wheat; and, though the season has been uncommonly wet, adn considerably against the progress of a good corn crop, yet there is a fair prospect of somewhat below an average crop, the prospect in this township being probably fully up to that of most of the townships of Madison County. The township is abundantly watered by numerous creeks and branches, fed by beautiful springs, and, with a clay and disintegrated limestone subsoil, is almost proof against common or ordinary droughts. The principal streams are the Bradford, the head branches of which rise in Paint and Oak Run Townships, and, uniting on the north boundary line of this township, flows in a southeasterly direction, forming the boundary line between Range and Oak Run Townships, for about one and a half miles, then passes into Oak Run tTownship, then again enters this township, passing through its northeast corner, and enters Pleasant Township. In its course it receives a tributary which is formed by two branches, which water all the northern portion of the township, by their various branches penetrating it in numerous directions. In the center of the township, on the Chrisman land, rises Mud Run, and flows southeast into Pleasant Township. The North Fork of Paint is formed by two branches, which rise a little northeast of Midway and form a junction just north of Danville, flowing southeast into Fayette county. In the southern central portion of the township is Thompson's Run, and in the western and southwestern part are Willow Spring Branch and East Fork of Paint, which flow in a southeastern course, form a junction about one-half mile north of the township line, and flow on into Fayette County. The general direction of all these creeks and their brnaches is east, southeast and south, showing distinctly that the northwest portion of the township has the greatest elevation.

From Atlas of Madison County by J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio (1875)

Range Township was organized by the County Commissioners for civil purposes in 1810. The surface is level and the soil very productive, and is well adapted to the growing of corn, oats, wheat, hay and grass. This township has very large farms, and is well watered by Bradford's Fork, Mud Run, North Fork of Paint Creek and Thompson Fork. The Federal road from South Solon, through Midway and Danville, to Mt. Sterling is piked: it has also the Madison and Fayette turnpike and two or three more pikes in its borders.

The first settlers within the present limits of Range were, Wm. M. Linton and George Linton, in 1800; the latter is still living at the age of 86; Daniel Counts, in 1801; Eleven Willoughby, 1808; Peter Moneyhorn, 1808; Daniel Gambrel, 1808; John Selsor, David Selsor, Joseph Burris, David Dye, Adam Funk and family, George DePugh, John Fisher, James McClimans and family, Burton Blizard, Wm. Vinson, Richard Gosley, Jesse Dungan, John Rayburn, Joseph Thomas the old pilgrim, Daniel Thomas, John Howsman and his son Isaac Howsman. Peter Counts came into the county, in 1812, to herd cattle, his father lived in Ross County; he found sedge grass so tall that he could sit on his horse and tie the grass over his head.

At that time there were plenty of Indians here, the Wyandotts and Potawatimies. The Wyandotts had resided on the soil of Ohio long before the French or English visited this country. Andrew Johnson first came her [sic] to herd cattle in 1818; at the time Mr. Johnson came here and also when Peter Counts, there was no underbrush among the timber. The Indians were in the habit of having their circle fires in the fall of the year to burn all herbage from Paint Creek, in Stokes township, to Deer Creek, in Pleasant, so that they could have a good chance at the game which abounded here in those days; Deer and Gray Wolves were very plenty then. The first land surveyed in this township was in 1804.

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

Range township occupies a central position in the extreme southern tiers of townships in the county, being bounded on the west by Stokes township, on the north by Paint and Oak Run townships, on the east by Pleasant township and on the south by Fayette county. This township was not one of the first townships organized immediately after the organization of the county, but was early erected and put into working order. Among the commissioners' records the following is found under date of December 7, 1812:

"At a meeting of the commissioners of Madison county (on petition), ordered that the following bounds compose a new township, which shall be hereafter known and designated by the name of Range township, viz:

"Beginning on the county of Fayette at the crossing of the North fork of Paint creek; thence to the eight-mile tree on Langham's road; thence with said line to the southwest corner of Judge Baskerville's survey; and then from the aforesaid place of beginning, west with Fayette county line, to a point one mile east from the crossing of Main Paint; thence northerly to the southeast corner of Judge Baskerville's survey aforesaid."

The geographical position of this township and the natural quality of its soil are such as to attract early settlement. William M. Linton was probably the first actual settler on the territory that was later to be erected into Range township. He was born in England about 1753, emigrated to Virginia, there married Mary Williams and settled in Hardy county. About 1797 they emigrated to Ohio and settled in Ross county. In 1800-01 they removed from thence to Madison county, settling a short distance south of where Sedalia is now situated, and resided there until his death, in 1835. All his life he devoted himself to the pursuit of farming. He was the father of eight children, Maria, George, Sarah, Susan, Hannah, Nancy, Betsey and Peggy. Maria married Cyrus Ward, Sarah married Archibald Stewart, Susan married Joseph Pancake, Nancy married William Davis, Hannah married Benjamin Walker and Peggy married Lockhart Biggs.

David Dye, a native of New Jersey, probably came to Ohio a single man, and settled on land just east of William Linton a few years later, and, about 1810, married Betsey Linton. She died about 1835. He married, for his second wife, Nancy Wingate, by whom he had two children. They remained in this township until about 1867, when they removed to Yellow Springs, Ohio, where his wife died in 1879, and he in 1880, aged ninety-five years. He was a blacksmith by trade and followed it in connection with farming throughout his life. Peter Moneyhorn settled in this township in about 1806. Little is known of him, except that he was an eccentric character and indulged a great deal in writing poetry or making rhymes and funny expressions, to the great amusement of those about him. It is thought that. after a few years' residence here, he moved away. Archibald Stewart settled just south of William Linton, probably in 1806-08, and married Sarah Linton. He was a very energetic, good business man, and became an extensive stock dealer and a large landowner. He finally moved to Bloomingsburg, Fayette county, where he died.

Joseph Pancake was born in Virginia, December 19, 1789; emigrated to Ohio, first to Ross county, thence, in 1806, to Madison county, Range township, and was employed by William M. Linton to work on his farm; he married Susan Linton and soon afterward settled on land west of Sedalia. He served in the War of 1812, for which service he later received a land warrant. His wife died and he married a Miss Corbitt. She lived for only one year and he married Mrs. Jane Dugan, nee Wilson, a native of Pennsylvania and the widow of Jesse Dugan, one of the early settlers of Range township. He lived with her until his death, in Sedalia, September 15, 1853. His wife died on July 30, 1863. He was the father of four children by his first wife and of three by his last wife. Mr. Pancake devoted his life to farming and at the time of his death had lived nearly half a century in Range township, having been one of her earliest settlers, and passed through the varied trails, dangers and hardships of those times. And not only was he a pioneer in secular affairs, but also in the Methodist Episcopal church, having been a member of the first class organized in this township and one of its leaders. He served a long and devoted life in the church, and died esteemed and respected by a large circle of friends and acquaintances.

Jesse Dugan, of Scotch descent, was a native of Pennsylvania; he married Jane Wilson, also a native of that state, and, about 1807, emigrated to Ohio and settled in Range township, on Bradford's creek, where he resided until his death, in 1824. He was the father of eight children. He spent his life as a farmer and knew the full force of pioneer life. He was a devoted member of the Christian church, and, soon after his settling here, he caused preaching to be held at his house. A society was organized about 1814, embracing himself, David Kingery, William Hall and others. Some of the early ministers who preached here were Rev. Forgus Graham, George Alkire, and the Rev. Barton Stone, of Kentucky. Mr. Dugan was the main pillar in this society and served as an exhorter for several years. The organization was kept up and services held at his house until after his death, after which they ceased, his funeral sermon being the last one ever preached there.

Joseph Burris, a native of Maryland, settled in Range township about 1807. Little can be ascertained of his life, except that he was the father of seven children, John, Samuel, Joseph, Robert, James, Betsey and Margaret, most of whom moved west.

Levin Willoughby, another of the earliest settlers, settled here probably as early as 1807. William Vincent was a brother-in-law of Levin Willoughby, and settled in the same neighborhood about the same date. Mr. Willoughby was born on Sharp's Island, in Chesapeake bay, and was the son of Job and Mary (Mills) Willoughby. His grandfather, Job Willoughby, was a native of Wales. Levin's parents soon moved into Maryland and settled near Cambridge, where they died. Their children were: Levin, Sally, John, Andrew, Amelia and Job. Levin married Elizabeth Levy, and soon afterward, with his family and some of his brothers and sisters, emigrated to Ohio and settled near Chillicothe, on the Governor Worthington farm. After a short residence there, he removed to Madison county and settled in Range township, about 1807, remaining there until his death. He was a farmer by occupation and held many offices of trust in this township. He was the father of five children, one of whom died in infancy: Martha married Benjamin Badger, Nancy married Jacob Hull, David married Elizabeth Kinney, and Levin married, it is believed, a Miss Gray.

Burton Blizzard, a native of Virginia, first settled in Ross county, where he married Millie Willoughby, and, about 1806-07, settled in Range township, Madison county, on land he purchased of William Dunlap, at one dollar an acre, and here he spent the remainder of his life. From time to time he purchased more land and at the time of his death he was the owner of nine hundred fine acres. He was somewhat of a carpenter and was often called upon by the new settlers to come and hew puncheons for the floors of their new cabins. He was one of the most prominent and best-liked men of his day. He assisted Patrick McLene in much of his surveying, and is said to have helped to lay out the town of London. He served as a justice of the peace for thirty years and as a commissioner of Madison county from 1816 to 1839, inclusive. He was largely identified with the establishment, growth and prosperity of Madison county; a1 man of more than ordinary ability, firm in character and integrity, he was one of the men for pioneer times and his efforts were crowned with success and esteem. His wife survived him for several years and died at the advanced age of ninety-four.

Daniel Counts was born in Rockingham county, Virginia, November 30,1779; he emigrated to Ohio, stopping first in Ross county, where he married Elizabeth Walker, and thence, about 1808, come to Range township, this county, where he spent a long and useful life, devoted to farming and stock raising. He started in life at the verge of poverty, and at first lived in a tent until he could afford a better home. He was very successful from the start, being economical and industrious, accumulated property rapidly, and, at the time of his death, owned two thousand five hundred acres of land in Range township, besides a large amount of Western land and personal property. He lived in this township for over sixty years, and died on January 22, 1873, at the age of ninety-four years. He was a very eccentric man and the old residents of the township still tell many stories of his peculiarities. He was the father of thirteen children. Peter Counts came here from Ross county and herded cattle in 1812; he purchased land and remained as a settler, engaging largely in farming and stock raising, and also became quite wealthy. Septimus Stuthard, a native of Virginia, settled early in this township and remained here for many years. His last years were spent in Fayette county, where he died in 1857. His second wife was Lovey Salmon. He was a good neighbor and worthy citizen, and a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Caleb Ramey, a brother-in-law of Mr. Stuthard, probably settled in the township about the same time. Thomas Baldwin, a native of Virginia also, settled a little east of Range about 1811-12. He married Mary Cookus, and lived here several years, during which time his wife died and he subsequently moved away. He was a good neighbor and a substantial citizen. He served as a justice of the peace for several years. James Whitesides settled where the village of Range is now located, and was one of the early teachers of the township. He also served as a Justice of the peace.

John McClimans, who emigrated to Ross county, Ohio, thence, about 1812, removed to Range township, Madison county, was a native of Pennsylvania, where he married Mary Creverston. They spent the remainder of their lives in this township. He was a devoted Christian and a life-long member of the Presbyterian church. They were the parents of ten children, nine of whom grew to maturity: Margaret, who married William Johnson; William, who married Nancy Pearson; George and John never married; Sarah married Isaac Housman; Samuel married Rachel Pearson; Isaac married, first, Mary Parker, and his second wife was Elizabeth Clearage; David married Eliza Parker. John Housman, a native of Virginia, married Martha Frost; emigrated to Ohio and settled in Ross county; thence, about 1813, removed to Madison county and settled in Range township. They were the parents of nine children, Margaret, William, Isaac, Jacob, Abraham, Samuel, Francis, Mary, Hannah and Martha.

William Johnston, a native of Pennsylvania. married Margaret McClimans, a native of the same state; emigrated to Ohio and settled in Ross county, near Chillicothe, about 1804-05, where they resided until the fall of 1813, when they removed to Madison county and located in Range township, on Mud run. Here, and on adjoining land which he subsequently purchased, they remained until his death, in the fall of 1861. They had eight children, who grew to maturity: John, Nancy, who died unmarried; William, who married Philista Hall, and on Wednesday, September 27, 1882, celebrated their golden wedding anniversary; George, who married Barbara Beam and settled in this township; Margaret married William Nelson, and, soon after, settled in De Witt county, Illinois; Henry married and settled in the same county in Illinois; Hannah married Dr. Joseph Bryant, and lived in the same county; and Joseph, the_youngest child, married and also settled in the same county. Mr. Johnston was one of the pioneers of Range township. At the time of his settlement here there were but few neighbors, as the country was sparsely settled, and he endured his full share of the hardships and dangers of the pioneers' life. He was a man of firm character and principles, and of undoubted integrity, possessing the full confidence of the community in which he lived. He filled the office of justice of the peace for several years. John, the eldest son of William Johnston, was born in Ross county, March 13, 1806, and was in his seventh year when, with his father and mother, they located in Range township. Here he grew to manhood, married and settled, reared a large family of children, and here resided until his death, July 29, 1882, in his seventy-seventh year, having been a resident of the township for almost sixty-nine years. He was a man of high moral character, a kind neighbor and a most worthy citizen, and was held in very high esteem in the community where he had lived so long.

Richard Gosslee was born in Sussex county, Delaware, May 19, 1781. He married Elizabeth Brown, February 11, 1803, and in 1804 emigrated to Ohio, and as did most of the other early settlers of this township, he becoming the first settler in Ross county. In 1816 he settled on the well-known Gosslee farm, about eight miles south of London, in Range township, where he remained until 1856. when he removed to London, where he died on November 20, 1872, at the ripe old age of ninety-one years and six months. His wife had died many years previously. He afterwards married a Mrs. Martin, of Circleville, Ohio, who lived but a few years. In 1847 he was married to Mrs. McFeely, of Circleville, Ohio. By his first wife, he was the father of eight sons and four daughters. Mr. Gosslee was a stanch supporter of the Methodist Episcopal church and was one of the founders of the Concord church, in Range township. He joined the Methodist church in 1801. Immediately after his marriage, be commenced to hold family worship, morning and evening, which custom he continued throughout his long life until within a few days of his death. Over seventy years of his life were spent in the service of God, in communion with the church of his choice. Very soon after he settled on his farm in this township, he was active in the organization of a class at his home, and there preaching was held for many years, until the erection of a church building in 1836-37.

Cornelius Johnson, a native of Maryland, married Sarah Andrews, and, in 1806, with his family, emigrated to Ohio, settling first in Ross county. About 1817-18 he removed to Madison county and settled on the Silver farm, in Range county, but, prior to his death, he returned to Ross county, where he died. He was twice married, and by the two wives was the father of twenty children. Thomas Athey, a native of Loudoun county, Virginia, emigrated to Bourbon county, Kentucky, where he lived for several years, and was a minister in the Methodist Episcopal church; thence he removed to Chlllicothe, Ohio, and married Diana Abrams, a daughter of Judge Henry Adams, and, about 1801-02 removed to Fairfield county; then, in the fall of 1818, settled in Range township, Madison county. He later became a resident of Union township, one and a half miles south of London. He was born on November 18, 1780, and died on October 26, 1861. His wife was born on June 8, 1777, and died October 8, 1863. They had eleven children. William King was among the early settlers, and was one of the first justices of the peace of Range township, serving in 1813 with Burton Blizzard. Others who were early settlers and who have been prominently identified and associated with the growth and progress of Range township are James Foster, Joseph Gillespie, Benjamin Harrison and Richard Ayers. John Fisher was born near Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in November, 1776. He married Elizabeth Byers, in April, 1797, and removed to Ross county, Ohio, in 1809, and about 1819, settled in Range township, Madison county, where he resided until his death, at the age of ninety-three. He served in the War of 1812; was the founder of the Bethel society of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he was the first class leader, the class being organized at his house, which served as the first preaching place of this society. Mr. Fisher was leader, trustee and steward of this society until near the time of his death. He was an honored citizen and a devoted Christian.

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