Stories of Guernsey County by Wm. Wolfe page 1054-1074
THE Wills township of today is much smaller than the Wills township formed by the county commissioners on April 23, 1810, as one of the five townships into which Guernsey county was divided. At different times sections of territory have been taken from it to help form other townships. Today it contains thirty-six square miles of land.
Levi Williams.--An unauthenticated story is told that Levi Williams came from Virginia in 1796, and, as a squatter, built a cabin near the present location of the Colonial Inn in Old Washington, and cleared a part of the land upon which the town now stands. Here he was living two years later when Jonathan Zane and party came past, opening the road known as Zane’s Trace, from Wheeling, West Virginia, to Maysville, Kentucky. Williams joined the little company of pathfinders, it is said, and assisted in cutting the trail through what is now Guernsey county.
A few years later he entered a tract of land located within the present boundaries of Washington township, and lived there the remainder of his life. John Williams, one of his eight children, was the first white male child born in Guernsey county. Levi Williams was a noted hunter, a first lieutenant under “Mad Anthony” Wayne in his campaign against the Indians, and an officer under General Harrison in the War of 1812.
There is another story that Levi Williams was born near Winchester, Virginia, in 1777, settled in Belmont county, Ohio, in 1796, and moved to what is now Old Washington, in 1800. In 1799 he married Hannah Lemmon, who was born in 1782. He did assist in cutting Zane’s Trace through Guernsey county, but was a resident of Belmont county at the time.
If the second story is the true one, Levi Williams, although probably the first white settler in Wills township, was not the first in Guernsey county; this honor seems to belong to Ezra Graham who settled at the Wills creek crossing in 1798.
Other Pioneers.—Oxford was the first Guernsey county township to be entered by the pioneer traveling along Zane’s Trace, seeking a home in the West. Oxford is in the seventh range of that land grant known as the Seven Ranges. West of it lies Wills township in the first range of townships in the Military district. Land in the Seven Ranges sold mostly for two dollars an acre, but for less farther west. To obtain land that cost a few cents less per acre the pioneer passed through Oxford and settled in Wills township. He might have gone farther west, but he did not want to get too far away from the eastern markets, to which he would take his produce and from which he must obtain many supplies. Oxford would have been closer, but land in Wills township was cheaper. This explanation is made to show why Wills township was peopled so early in the history of the county.
After Levi Williams who was the next white settler in Wills township? On September 13, 1804, Joseph Smith laid out a town in the township, which he named Frankfort. On September 28, 1805, George and Henry Beymer platted New Washington, now Old Washington. A traveler through both these places in 1807 writes that Frankfort then had eight or ten houses and cabins, and Beymerstown twelve, four of which were taverns.
Gen. Simon Beymer came to Ohio from Pennsylvania. At Beymerstown he opened a tavern which he called the Black Bear and upon which he placed the date 1806. His license to keep it was issued in Pennsylvania. This tavern was still in use long after the National Road was built, and was the stopping place for stagecoaches.
Between the years 1805 and 1811 Thomas Frame and his seven sons, Moses, William, Jacob, David, John, James and Thomas--all with families---came to Wills township from Fayette county, Pennsylvania, and entered large tracts of land in the same locality. Their descendants became numerous, and some are now living in the township.
Other pioneer families were the Laws, Lawrences, Clements, Doyles, Cooks, LaRues, Bairds, Cunninghams, Boyds, Sawhills, Robes, Pattersons, Dugans, Hawkins, Clarks and McNutts.
Elizabethtown and Easton.—Two miles east of Old Washington, on the National Road, Elizabethtown was platted by Jacob Weller in 1832. It flourished during the stagecoach days, having its tavern, wagon-yards, blacksmith shop and stores. The population was 131 in 1850, and 217 in 1860. By 1880 the number of people living in the town was only forty-four. Today there are but a few scattering homes and two or three businesses places in Elizabethtown.
Between Old Washington and Elizabethtown David Drew platted Easton in 1842. The name is now about all that remains.
Population.—In 1820 Wills township had 1,069 persons living within its boundaries, almost as many as it has today; in 1830 there were 1,224; in 1840, 1,887, in 1850, 2,196; in 1860, 2,225; in 1870, 1,670; in 1880, 1,855; in 1890, 1,627; in 1900, 1,419; in 1910, 1,398; in 1920, 1,431; in 1930, 1,152.
Old Washington.—Eight months and four days older than Cambridge, Old Washington is the oldest permanent town in Guernsey county. Frankfort, laid out a year before Old Washington, would hold that honor had it survived. Old Washington was platted as New Washington, September 28, 1805. The official name was given little recognition, as it was generally known as Beymerstown because the Beymers were its founders and most active citizens in early days. On February 10, 1829, two years after the National Road was completed through the town, it was incorporated as Washington, the prefix “New” being dropped. Five years after New Washington was platted Washington C. H. was laid out as the county seat of Fayette county, Ohio. Mail addressed to Washington C. H. often went to Washington, Guernsey county. A request was made by the postal department that Washington, Guernsey county, change its name. It did so reluctantly (prefixing “Old”), because it was an older town than Washington C. H. The latter claimed that it had adopted the name when the former was New Washington.
New Washington was platted in Muskingum county five years before Guernsey county was formed. The land upon which it was laid out was owned by the Beymers. Zane’s Trace passed through their land and it was this, perhaps, that prompted them to invite a settlement.
Henry Beymer who, with his brother George, platted New Washington,, filed a plat of the town for record in the court house at Zanesville, Muskingum county, September 28, 1805. This record reads as follows:
“The course and breadth of the Main street of the town of Washington in the state of Ohio, Muskingum county, is S.80 degrees E. and 66 feet wide; and all the streets and alleys are parallel, or at right angles with the Main street, and are of the following breadths: Main cross street, 66 feet wide; St. George’s street, 33 feet wife: North street, 66 feet wide; St. Henry’s street, 33 feet wide; South street, 33 feet wide; and all the alleys, 16 ½ feet wide..
“Lots Nos. 1 and 2 to be for a court house and jail. Lot No. 48 to be for a church and schoolhouse. The spring in Lot No 62 to be for a Public Benefit to the inhabitants of said town, and a free recourse to be had thereto. The dimensions of each and every Lot is 66 feet front and rear and 165 feet deep.
“I do hereby certify this to be a true plat of the town of Washington, in the county and state first above written.
“Robert Johnson, Surveyor,
“September 28, 1805”
Following this entry was the oath of Henry Beymer who evidently was unable to write his name:
“Personally appeared before me the subscriber, one of the justices of the peace, Henry Beymer who took the following oath, to wit: That he and George Beymer, his Brother, hath laid out a town in the county of Muskingum and state of Ohio, called New Washington, and that the within is a true plot of the same.
“(Signed)—Henry (X) Beymer.”
The diagram accompanying the record above shows eighty lots in the town. Forty lots front on Main street, twenty on each side. Parallel to Main street are St. George’s street and North street on one side, and St. Henry’s street and South street on the other. Extending from north to south perpendicular to these streets are House alley, Spring alley, Beech alley, Clover alley, Straw alley, Sugar alley, Flat alley and Rich alley. Parallel to the alleys at the west end is West street.
Anticipating a new county, five years in advance of its formation, Henry and George Beymer evidently hoped that their town would be made the seat of justice and they reserved two lots for a court house and a jail. Joseph Smith, when he laid out Frankfort four miles east of New Washington the year before, also reserved two lots for the same purpose. As did the Beymers, he reserved for public use the lot in which there was a spring.
Reservations for county-seat buildings are shown on the plats of several early Guernsey county towns. These may have been made to attract the attention of prospective buyers of lots; or they may have been intended as an inducement to be offered when, and if, a location for a seat of justice should be sought later. When Guernsey county was organized, Beymerstown (New Washington) wanted to be made the county seat. There were only two other towns in the county—Frankfort and Cambridge. Although the former had made provisions for it, there is no record of its seeking the honor. For the story, “Locating the County Seat,” the reader is referred to Chapter II of this work.
The population of Washington was 161 in 1820; 372 in 1830; 759 in 1850; 741 in 1860; 554 in 1870; 600 in 1880; 546 in 1890; 366 in 1910; 383 in 1920; 336 in 1930; 297 in 1940.
It will be noted that the population was greatest about 1850. From Howe’s “Historical Collections of Ohio,” published in 1846, we learn that Washington was a “thriving village” and was doing “an extensive business with the surrounding country.” It had five churches, six mercantile stores, a woolen factory, and a population nearly equal to Cambridge. For many years it was the best business town in Guernsey county. A newspaper was established here in 1824, and a bank in 1848. Near Washington are the county home and the county fair grounds. For full accounts of the newspaper, band, county home and county fair, the reader is referred to other chapters of this work.
In 1882 some facts relative to the early history of Washington were published, from which we have taken the following; Joshua Martin built the “Ark” on ground previously occupied by a tavern. Jacob Saltsgaver had a tan-yard just west of the tavern, where DR. Francis Rea later built a brick mansion. Josiah Conwell was a carriage and wagon-maker. Andrew McCleary was a carpenter and sexton of the church. William Haines had a blacksmith shop, near which was a great gate for wagons to drive through to the back yard. West of the blacksmith shop was the old Beymer tavern near which circuses were held. William Englehart came to Washington in 1812 and was living there in 1882 at the age of ninety. He was a Presbyterian in religion, a Democrat in politics, and a carpenter by trade. Thomas Hanna kept a drygoods store. Peter Umstot was justice of the peace and postmaster for thirty years. It was he who presided at the civil trial of the Leatherwood God, the story of which may be found in another chapter.
Among the Washington business men in 1870 were the following: Spence and Lovejoy, millers; L. B. Biggs, wool merchant; W. A. and S. B. Lawrence, general store; W. H. Hayes, sales stable; William C. Smith, proprietor of American hotel; J. W. Eaton, druggist; Luke Barton and Noah McMullin, blacksmiths; John Knox, saddler; W. A. Lovejoy and R. C. Purdum, dealers in leaf tobacco.
As far back as the 40’s Washington had visions of a railroad. Survey across the township were made for the old “Calico” which never materialized. About thirty years ago the Marietta and Lake Railroad was built between Washington and Lore City, but it proved unprofitable and was abandoned after a few months; operation.
For Washington incidents of Morgan’s Raid and the War of 1812 the reader is referred to the chapters of Morgan’s Raid and war Stories.
Anti-Horse Thief Association.—Horse thieves were so numerous in Guernsey county in 1871, especially in the neighborhood of Washington, that a permanent organization was effected whose object was to recover stolen horses, and pursue and arrest the thieves. The officers were Rev. Samuel Mehaffey, president; W. K. Gooderl, secretary; James H. Eaton, treasurer; and E. M. Creighton, Rezin Griffith, James Spence, and John D. Fred directors. A constitution was adopted, which provided for the election of officers annually. Any person residing within four miles of Washington, by paying one dollar and subscribing to the constitution, was eligible to membership.
Owners of Real Estate in 1840.—A complete list of the owners of real estate in Wills township in 1840 follows. The family names of all residents of estate in Wills township, except tenants, are given.
Askins, Samuel, 50 acres, sec. 17 and 23; Askins, William, Sr., 80 acres, sec. 17; Askins, John (Heirs), 124 acres, sec. 11; Ambler, Thomas, 97 acres, sec. 23; Adams, David, 150 acres, sec. 14 and 15; Anderson, Abraham, 2 acres, sec. 11; Ankenny, Peter B., 1 acre, sec. 11; Black, Samuel, 207 acres, sec. 24; Beymer, Simon, 220 acres, sec. 10 and 11; Brill, Michael, 100 acres, sec. 1; Bigham, Jane and Sarah, 210 acres, sec. 21; Bigham, William, 100 acres, sec 1; Barton, John, 263 acres, sec. 15 and 20; Baird, John, 152 acres, sec. 19; Bevard, William, Jr., 160 acres, sec. 8; Bumgardner, Jacob, 60 acres, sec 6; Bumgardner, Michael, 80 acres, sec. 6; Bigger, Samuel, 120 acres, sec. 10; Barton, Alexander, 200 acres, sec. 10; Boyd, Susan, 25 acres, sec. 11; Brown, John, 157 acres, sec. 23; Blackiston, William, 892 acres, northeast part of quarter twp. NO. 1; Brown, Hugh, 170 acres, sec. 1: Bonnell, John, 149 acres, sec. 1.
Creighton, James, 20 acres, sec. 1; Creighton, John, 360 acres, sec. 6, 7, 13, 14; Cunningham, Edward, 40 acres, sec 11 and 20; Cunningham, James, 355 acres, sec. 11 and 20; Cook, George (Heirs), 160 acres, sec. 11; Clements, Mary, 46 acres, sec. 10 and 11; Carr, James, 94 acres, lot 10; Campbell, William, 140 acres, sec.1; Clary, Benjamin, 80 acres, sec. 22; Cunningham, Thomas, 161 acres, sec. 1; Clark, Richard, 2 acres, sec.11; Clements, Hezekiah, 40 acres, sec. 10 and 11; Conwell, Josiah, 1 acre, sec. 15; Conway, Samuel, 500 acres, lots 17, 19, 20; Caldwell, Joseph, 4 acres, sec. 10; Carlisle, John (Heirs), 783 acres, lots 2, 7, 8, 11, 17, 18; Donahoo, John, 185 acres, sec. 4 and 5; Doup, Henry, 120 acres, sec. 15; Doyle, John and Matthew, 160 acres, sec. 20; Dunn, William, 312 acres, lots 3, 7, 8 and 12.
Englehart, William, 1 acre, sec. 11; Endley, Jacob, 5 acres, sec. 11; Evans, Henry, 162 acres, sec. 1; Frame, James, 117 acres, lot 3; Frame, William D., 328 acres, sec. 2 and 24; Foreacre, John, 168 acres, sec. 2; Frew, Alexander, 51 acres, sec. 15; Frame, James of William, 160 acres, sec. 24; Frame, John, 200 acres, lot 4; Frame, Moses, 187 acres, sec. 23; Forsythe, Robert, 296 acres, sec. 18 and 19; Frye, Peter, 80 acres, sec. 4; Frame, William of David, 209 acres, lot 3; Frame, James of David, 279 acres, lots 1 and 5; Frame, James, Sr., 273 acres, sec. 2 and 23; Ferguson, Lemen, 163 acres, sec. 1; Frame, James of James, 152 acres, sec. 16; Gallagher, James, 100 acres, lot 12.
Headley, John, 33 acres, lot 18; Hastings, John, Jr., 80 acres, sec. 19; Hyde, Robert, 72 acres, sec. 16; Hall, Samuel, 160 acres, sec. 3; Hyde, Thomas (Heirs), 144 acres, sec. 16; Hays, Thomas, 159 acres, sec. 11; Hawkins, William, 160 acres, sec. 21; Hubbard, William, 200 acres, lot 16; Hawkins, Samuel, 90 acres. Sec, 6 and 7; Hanna, John, 300 acres, sec. 4 and 5; Hastings, John, Sr., 193 acres, sec. 6 and 21; Haines, Nathaniel, 168 acres, sec. 2; Hannum, David, 100 acres, lot 15; Hartong, John, 50 acres, sec. 1; Jones, Andrew, 30 acres, sec. 11;
Kegley, William, 41 acres, sec. 5; Kester, Priscilla, 30 acres, lot 11; Laird, John, 5 acres, sec. 1; Lowry, Elijah, 156 acres, sec. 3; Law, John, 102 acres, sec. 1; Law, Jonathan (Heirs), 80 acres, sec. 22; Larue, John, 161 acres, lot 9; Lawrence, Samuel, 165 acres, sec. 11 and 15; Leeper, Robert, Jr., 143 acres, sec. 17 and 24; Leeper, Robert, Sr., 148 acres, sec. 13; Larue, David, 23 acres, sec. 22.
Martin, Joshua, 15 acres, sec 10 and 11; McNutt, Samuel, 400 acres, lots 1 and 6; Montgomery, John, 100 acres, lot 15; McConnell, William, 136 acres, sec. 3; McClary, Andrew, 160 acres, sec. 21; McCoy, Cornight, 148 acres, sec. 21; Moore, William, 200 acres, lots 12 and 13; McKitrick, John, 1 acre, sec. 15; Miller, George, 142 acres, sec. 22; McBurney, William, 110 acres, sec. 17; McCrea, Edward, 145 acres, sec. 5; Moore, Andrew, 101 acres, lots 3 and 4; McCurdy, John, 5 acres, sec. 11; McCoy, Benjamin, 111 acres, sec. 1; McConnell, Joseph, 1 acre, sec. 11; Montgomery, Levi, 289 acres, sec. 11 and 20; Mollineaux, Thomas, 1 acre, sec. 1; Morton, Isaac, 30 acres, sec. 1; Miller, Jonathan, 160 acres, sec. 22; Morrow, William, 301 acres, sec. 1 and 15.
Nichols, George (Heirs), 160 acres, sec. 4; Nichols, John, 159 acres, sec. 12; Parlott, Isaiah, 100 acres, lot 14; Petty, Robert, 20 acres, sec. 15; Perry, Thomas, 3 acres, sec. 15; Perry, Jonathan, 1 acre, sec. 15; Quick, Moses, 160 acres, sec. 19; Robe, Josiah, 7 acres, sec. 15; Rinehart, Joseph, 198 acres, sec. 3 and 8; rose, Thompson, 77 acres, sec. 21; Robe, William, 160 acres, sec. 25; Razor, George, 60 acres, sec. 14; Ralston, Joseph, 80 acres, sec. 19; Robinson, James, 71 acres, sec. 17; Robinson, Samuel, 76 acres, sec. 17; Robinson, Margaret, 50 acres, sec. 16 and 17; Robinson, John, 86 acres, sec. 16 and 17.
Skinner, William, 30 acres, sec. 10 and 11; Skinner, Samuel, 19 acres, sec. 10; Sawhill, Robert, 159 acres, sec. 20; Scroggins, John, 153 acres, sec. 6; Sutton, Christopher, 55 acres, sec. 14; Slaughter, Philip, 100 acres, sec. 13 and 18; Slaughter, Frederick, 80 acres, sec. 18; Sutton, Philip, 5 acres, sec 13; Slasor, George (Heirs), 80 acres, sec. 7; Sproat, Alexander, 400 acres, sec. 24 and 25; Shewman, John, 150 acres, sec. 23; Stewart, Galbraith, 295 acres, sec. 12 and 19; Saltsgiver, Jacob, 3 acres, sec. 10; Saltsgiver, Peter, 179 acres, sec. 4 and 5; Swope, Christopher, 160 acres, sec. ; Smith, Samuel, 125 acres, sec. 14; Stewart, William (Heirs), 80 acres, sec. 21; Starr, James, 50 acres, sec 11; Sawhill, James, 142 acres, lot 7.
Tipton, John, 45 acres, sec. 13; Thompson, John, 20 acres, sec. 1; Umstot, Peter (Heirs) 245 acres, sec. 7 and 11; Umstot, Abraham, 120 acres, sec. 5; Umstot, Solomon, 200 acres, sec. 4 and 7; Vorhies, Lewis C., 115 acres, sec. 14; Vorhies, Albert, 82 acres, sec. 8; Weir, Thomas, 200 acres, lots 13 and 14; West, William, 42 acres, sec. 1; Williams, George, 156 acres, lot 6; Williams, Israel, 168 acres, sec. 2; Whetstone, Henry, 92 acres, sec. 21; Wilson, Zachariah, 28 acres, sec. 22; Wilson, Margaret, 160 acres, sec. 18; Wheeler, Samuel, 298 acres, sec. 16 and 17; Weller, Jacob, 30 acres, sec. 14; Weller, John, 86 acres, sec. 7 and 13; Wood, Margaret, 33 acres, lot 18; Weaver, Hans, 336 acres, lot 8; Wilson, Jeremiah, 104 acres, sec. 23; White, Joseph, 100 acres, sec. 1; Williams, Joseph, 180 acres, sec. 1; Young, Alexander, 184 acres, sec. 21.
Owners of lots in Washington in 1840 were the following: John M. Allison, Robert Askins, William Askins, Abraham Anderson, Alexander Arneal, John Askins, John Barton, Daniel Baumgardner, Henry Beymer, John Baxter, William Beymer, James Blair, Simon Beymer, Richard Clark, Josiah Conwell, William Clark (Heirs), Abraham Clements (Heirs), Hezekiah Clements, Mary Chance, John Coyle, Edward Cunningham, John Craig, Joseph Caldwell, James Devinney, Arura Day, William Englehart, Henry Evans, Jacob Endley, Alexander Frew, Jacob Fisher, William Frame, Samuel Frazey (Heirs), William of David Frame, James L. Green, Joseph Griffith, James Gibson, William hurts, Mary Huseham, Richard Hill, John Hanna, James Jenkins, John Kell (Heirs), James Kennedy, James Kirkpatrick, Edward Lawn, John Lawrence, Samuel Lawrence.
John McCune, John McKitrick, James McConnell, Joshua Martin, Dr. John McFarland, H. McCleary, William McKelvey, Alexander McCleary, John McCurdy, James A. McCleary (Heirs), James Patterson (Heirs), Andrew D. Patterson, James Ransom (colored), John Riggs, Willuiam Robinson, George Slasor (Heirs), Jacob Saltsgiver (Heirs), William Skinner, John Scroggins, James Stewart, Jr., Jane Saltsgiver, Samuel Shipman, William W. Tracey, Peter Umstot (Heirs), Abraham Umstot, Solomon Umstot, Jacob Umstot, John Walter, Jonathan Warne.
The owners of lots in Elizabethtown were Jonathan B. Atkins, Luke Barton, Butler and Weller, Phebe Day, John English (heirs) William Mahanney, David F. Robe, Samuel Smith, Christopher Sutton, Jacob Sutton, Philip Slaughter, John Welter and Jacob Welter.
The Lost Town
On the farm now owned by Walter Day in Wills township once stood the first town of Guernsey county, or rather what is now Guernsey county. It was called Frankfort by Joseph Smith, its founder, who laid it out September 13, 1804. Who Joseph Smith was, or what became of him, nobody knows. The settlement was often referred to as Smithtown. Some old maps indicate it as a place of importance on Zane’s Trace.
Population Was 200.—That the founder had visions of a great metropolis here at some future time is evidenced by the record which states that lot No. 5 would be reserved for court house purposes; lot No. 13 for a “goal”; and lot No. 29 which contained a spring, for free use as the “public square and the town commons.”
The town grew until it had a population of 200 people. There were a tavern, two stores, a mill and a distillery. It was the only settlement to which the pioneers might come for supplies and news, and the only place at which travelers on the long lonesome trail could stop for food and rest without going many miles farther.
Zane’s Trace, which was merely a blazed trail through the unbroken forest, was traveled by the pioneers seeking homes in the West. For many miles east and west of Frankfort there was no settlement. The old tavern here was well patronized, because the travelers would hasten to reach Frankfort for the night’s lodging. At a later date another town six miles away was founded. This was called Beymerstown, now Old Washington. It, too, was on Zane’s Trace.
Why Deserted.—In 1827 the National Road was built through Guernsey county. For a greater part of its distance through the county, it ran north of Zane’s Trace. As it was a much better route to travel, the old trace ceased to be used. Travelers no longer passed through Frankfort. The tavern, the stores, the mill, the distillery were no longer patronized. The town began to decline and, in the course of time, passed out of existence.
Now a Pasture Field.—If one takes the road leading south from the National Road a few rods west of the crooked stone bridge just west of Middlebourne, and follows it for two miles, he will come to the site of the first town in Guernsey county. He will find no tavern there, no stores, no mill, no distillery. He will see no court house, no jail, no public square. Not a house of that which was once the metropolis of Guernsey county is to be seen. All disappeared completely long ago.
The streets and lots have been cultivated for many years. The public square is a pasture field. The old spring around which the town would gather still pours forth a stream of pure cold water, and such it will continue to do after all the rest is forgotten.
One is reminded of the following lines from Goldsmith’s “The Deserted Village:”
“But now the sounds of population fail,
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,
No busy steps the grass-grown footway tread;
But all the bloomy flush of life is fled.”
An Incident of the First Town
Frankfort, the first town in Guernsey county, experienced its greatest sensation in the autumn of 1819, in what is known as the “Taylor Robbery.” Although the robbery did not take place in the town, it was near there, and that place was the center of the greatest excitement attending it. This was the first crime of much consequence in Guernsey county, and that the peace loving pioneers became excited over it is not to be wondered at.
The Baltimore Merchant.—John Taylor was a wholesale merchant whose place of business was in Baltimore. He sold goods to storekeepers in the western country. This merchandise was hauled over the mountains by wagoners who followed Zane’s Trace after reaching the Ohio River at Wheeling. It was Mr. Taylor’s custom to make a western trip once a year, going as far as Indiana, to take orders for goods and make collections. On his return from such a trip he one evening arrived at the Black Bear tavern kept by Simon Beymer in Washington, commonly known at that time as Beymerstown. He was riding horseback and was carrying three thousand five hundred dollars in his saddle-bags.
Andrew B. Moore kept a tavern at Frankfort which was six miles southeast of Beymerstown with which it was connected by Zane’s Trace. Two girls of the Moore household—Harriet Moore and Margaret Morton—were visiting at the Beymer tavern. They met Mr. Taylor at breakfast the morning after his arrival. He recognized the girls as he had often been a guest at the Moore tavern in former years. He told them he would reach their home town by and be their guest for dinner. They started for home at once in order that they might announce the coming of Mr. Taylor and assist in preparing a special meal.
Passing through the forest about half-way between Beymerstown and Frankfort, they noticed three strange men seated on a log a short distance back from the road. The men did not molest the girls who were not much alarmed at their presence as strangers were frequently passing through the country. Dinner was prepared at the Moore tavern and Mr. Taylor’s arrival was awaited, but he did not come. The afternoon passed away and suppertime came, but no Mr. Taylor. The Moores were somewhat puzzled as there was no road that he could travel east except the one past the tavern.
Mr. Taylor’s Story.—Late at night there was a loud rapping at the tavern door. Opening it, Mr. Moore admitted Taylor who appeared half-dazed and in great distress. He urged him to tell why he had arrived at that late hour in such condition. Taylor would not talk at all until Moore demanded him to make an explanation. He said, “I have taken a solemn oath not to reveal what has happened.” Moore insisted that he do so, assuring him that no oath under the circumstances—whatever they were—could possibly be binding on his conscience. Thereupon Mr. Taylor told the following story:
“I left Beymer’s tavern, expecting to be here before . At 10 o’clock, when about three miles on the way, three men sprang out from amongst the trees, caught my horse by the bridle, and forced me through the bushes, down a long hill into a deep hollow in the dense woods. Here they forced me to dismount, tied me to a tree, cut open my saddle-bags and took the money I was carrying. They kept me tied to the tree until about tonight, hanging around and holding frequent councils as to what they should do with me. Two of them insisted on putting me to death as the safest course for them to pursue. The third objected. “If you kill him, you will have to kill me first,” he said. The others then gave way, but threatened to kill me in spite of the third man’s objections should I make an outcry.
‘After making me take an oath not to leave the woods for an hour after their departure, and not report the occurrence before morning, they untied me. I waited for a time I thought to be an hour and started to leave, but the robbers, who had hidden near by, returned and again threatened me. I was required to renew the oath. They then left, leaving my horse as they had horses of their own. I waited another hour and then rode rapidly here.”
(Note: The deep hollow into which Mr. Taylor was taken was near the southwest corner of lot No. 16, section No. 13, of the Military lands in Wills township, one and one-half miles southeast of Elizabethtown. This section in early days was known as Hubbard’s woods which remained uncleared as late as 1853.)
An Alarm Sounder.—Having heard Taylor’s story. Moore aroused the men of Frankfort. His son and two or three other men rode rapidly to Cambridge, arriving there about daylight. Preparations were made immediately to scour the county in every direction. It was the opinion, however, that the robbers had been following Mr. Taylor, perhaps for several days, looking for a suitable place to attack him, and had chosen Hubbard’s woods because that section was remote form habitation; that having accomplished their purpose, they would turn west again.
Three parties were formed with Robert B. Moore, Zaccheus A. Beatty and Simon Beymer as leaders. The squads under Moore and Beatty took different roads into Coshocton county, and that under Beymer started towards Zanesville. They had been given descriptions of the robbers by Taylor and the girls from Moore’s tavern. Convinced that the men sought were not in Coshocton county, Moore and Beatty began a search in Muskingum county. Here they learned that such men as they described had been seen traveling westward.
The Robbers Captured.—The robbers were overtaken at the Licking bridge near Newark by the Moore and Beatty parties. Surrounded here, they showed fight but were finally captured. Each carried a bundle in which was one-third of Mr. Taylor’s money, which showed that they had divided the booty equally. The robbers were brought to Cambridge and imprisoned in the old log jail to await a trial.
A little after dark one evening they called to the sheriff that the jail was on fire, after they had succeeded in some way in raising a smoke. When the sheriff opened the door they knocked him down, ran to the Gomber wood lot north of the jail, and then disappeared in the woods beyond. They could not be followed in the darkness and were never heard of again.
All of Mr. Taylor’s money was restored to him. He had no desire, he said, to punish the robbers after getting back hi s money, and he would always have a kindly feeling towards the one who save his life. He insisted on rewarding the men who had part in the capture, but they would accept nothing but their expenses.
In the early 80’s of the last century a house that stood on the south side of Main street in Washington was torn away. It was a very old building, having been erected about the year 1805, just after the town was laid out. The house had been built of hewed logs. To give it a more modern appearance the logs had later been covered with weather-boards.
Having removed the weather-boards, the workmen were surprised to find horseshoes nailed on many of the logs on all sides of the house. Between two logs a jug of whisky has been concealed. These horseshoes and the jug of whisky attracted a great deal of attention. There was such speculation as to the reason why they had been placed there.
Mystery Solved by Hezekiah Clements.—One of the oldest citizens of the town at that time was Hezekiah Clements who had lived there since 1806, and to him some of the curious citizens went for a solution of the mystery. He said that back in 1809 a family living in this house had a child afflicted with a disease that baffled the local doctor. All the remedies known to a backwoods physician had been used to no avail. It was a strange malady. The child continued to grow worse.
Shellbrick Wirrick was a witch doctor who lived in the Washington community. He was summoned to the bedside of the sick child. Following an examination he announced that it had been bewitched. Only by finding the witch and punishing her, he said, could the child’s life be saved.
Suspicion rested on a certain woman in the neighborhood. After some investigation Dr. Shellbrick Wirrick asserted that there was no question as to her guilt. He stated that the punishment in this case should consist of burning holes in her thighs with red-hot irons. This was done, the child soon began to improve and eventually became entirely well.
Many Believed in Witchcraft.—The witchcraft delusion is hard to understand. Belief in it dates back to very early times. Nearly all European countries have had laws against it. Witchcraft in this country created its greatest excitement at Salem, Massachusetts, in 1648. At that place all ranks and classes of society fell for the delusion which was not broken until twenty persons, including a clergyman, had been put to death.
Belief in witchcraft was prevalent amongst the early settlers of this western country. Witches were believed to inflict strange and incurable diseases, particularly on children and domestic animals. A child afflicted with a disease the medical profession did not understand was bewitched, so many thought. Only a witch doctor could effect a cure, and the treatment had to be applied to the witch. A remedy often used was shooting a silver bullet into a picture of the witch. If guilty the one whose picture had been shot would soon die; then the patient would recover.
When cows wouldn’t “give down” their milk, they were believed to be bewitched. Hogs that would not fatten, chickens with the gapes, and horses with the heaves were bewitched, so many thought. If a gun missed fire, it, too, was believed to be under the curse of a witch. A skillful witch doctor could break the spell whether on man, beast or gun.
How the Curse Was Dispelled.—Dr. Shellbrick Wirrick stated, after the child had recovered, that the log house in which the family lived was bewitched. The curse would ever rest upon it to torment future occupants, he declared, unless dispelled by placing a jug of whisky between two of the logs and nailing horseshoes on the outer walls.
Hezekiah Clements said he remembered the incident very well, although he was but a boy at the time. He claimed that many people really believed the child was bewitched and was cured by this means.
This is a Guernsey County story with a Southeastern Virginia background. Its two leading characters remind one somewhat of Eliza and George Harris in "Uncle Tom's Cabin." From accounts of them that we have gathered, they had personalities, early environments, and later experiences much like those of the characters in the famous novel. However, they were not exposed to the dangers of pursuers, bloodhounds and floating ice.
A Master's Will--Silky was a slave. Her master was Drewry Betts who owned a big plantation in Sussex County, Virginia, not far from Norfolk. Silky White was her full name, but when Drewry Betts bought her from another slaveholder, the last part was dropped, and thereafter she was known as Silky, and called by no other name. Silky was not a field hand, as were most of the women on the plantations. Possessing many attractive qualities not common to the average slave girl, she served in the home as a maid to Mrs. Betts. Being sensible and alert, she here learned many things, and acquired a training that proved a blessing when she was thrown on her own resources in later years.
In 1816, when Silky was sixteen years of age, her master made a will which contained an item of a kind not commonly found in the will of a slaveholder. It was the following:
"It is my will and desire, believing freedom to be the natural right of all mankind, that after the death of my wife, all my slaves, namely, Peter, Will, Nicholas, Judah, Tempy, Silky, and such others as may be found in my estate, be emancipated, and all their increase as they arrive at the age of twenty-one years; also, at the death of my wife, it is my will and desire that all that remains of my estate of all kinds and qualities, to be sold, and, after paying the aforementioned legacies (bequests to others in preceding items), the balance to be divided amongst all my slaves in the following manner: three-fifths to be equally divided amongst the survivors of the aforementioned persons, to wit, Peter, Will, Nicholas, Judah, Tempy and Silky, and the other two-fifths to be equally divided amongst all the rest of my slaves that may at that time be found in my estate."
A Certificate of Freedom--Drewry Betts died two years later (1818), but Silky was not free until the death of his wife, which occurred in 1821. Silky then received a certificate bearing the seal of Sussex county, Virginia, of which the following is a copy:
"State of Virginia,
Sussex County Court
“I, James C. Bailey, Clerk of the County Court aforesaid, do hereby certify that the bearer hereof (Silky) was emancipated by the last will and testament of Drewry Betts, which is duly recorded in my office. The said Silky is of a yellow complexion, five feet and six and a half inches high, has no visible scar on the hands or face, and appears to be about twenty-one years of age.
“Given under my hand and Seal of Office this 4th day of January, 1821.
“J. C. Bailey"
The foregoing records show that all slaveholders were not cruel. Drewry Betts, although holding slaves, believed "freedom to be the natural right of all mankind." Silky was emancipated forty years before the Civil War opened. And not only did she receive her freedom, but she shared in her master's estate as if she were his own child.
Silky Starts to a Land of Freedom--Silky loved her old master and mistress, because they had been kind to her, and while they lived she was happy. Now she was free to do as she pleased. All around her were people of her own race in bondage. All masters were not like Drewry Betts. She witnessed cruelties that caused her to shudder, and she wanted to get away from it all. Then there was the haunting fear that her certificate of freedom might be lost or annulled, and she again would be forced into slavery. A freed slave could not feel safe in Southern Virginia. She could get very little work to do, as everybody employed slave labor.
Far to the north, Silky heard, was a land where everybody was free. If she could get there she would work hard and own a home, something of which she had long dreamed. When her mistress died there were eighteen slaves to share in the estate. Taking advantage of the slaves' ignorance of law, the administrators and other officers cheated them out of much of their legacies. Silky received about one hundred dollars. Pinning the money, the precious certificate of emancipation, and a certified of her old master's will in the bosom of her dress, she started towards Ohio. She could not read the papers, but she knew they meant her freedom. She was not pursued, as was Eliza, but she was questioned many times. Her papers were her passport; she was permitted to travel on. After a tiresome journey of many days, she reached the Ohio River and crossed into a land of freedom. On Captina creek in Belmont county, Ohio, she found a settlement of people of her own race, and here she decided to stay.
George Turner--Silky had fifty dollars of her legacy left. She obtained employment in the home of a white family at fifty cents a week. She was determined to realize her great ambition--a home of her own--and she worked and saved. After a time she had eighty dollars with which she bought fifty acres of land at one and one-half dollars an acre, and a cow for five dollars. This is what Booker T. Washington would call "Up from Slavery."
George Turner was a slave. Like Harriet Beecher Stowe's George Harris, he was more intelligent than the ordinary slave. Being a natural mechanic, he worked as a blacksmith on his master's plantation. His skill, loyalty and fine behavior won for him his master's admiration. The latter told him he might work for others after his day's work on the plantation was done, and if he would save his money he might some day buy himself which he would sell to him for three hundred dollars. It was a low price for such a valuable slave. George earned the money, bought his freedom and started towards Ohio. He reached Captina creek in Belmont county.
Our searching the records and our close questioning the few persons who knew the story have failed to reveal the reason for his coming to that particular place. Did he know Silky in slavery days? Was there an understanding that inspired Silky to come here, work hard and prepare a home, and George to work for his freedom? There are reasons to believe this to be true. At any rate, about the first thing George did when he reached Captina was to marry Silky and settle down with her and the cow on the fifty-acre farm.
Silky Comes to Washington--George and Silky became respected citizens. He farmed and worked at his trade as a blacksmith. To them two sons and a daughter were born, all of whom died many years ago. Margaret A., the daughter, married Joseph D. Betts, and later moved to Washington, Guernsey county. Their home was on the north side of the National Road, a short distance west of Stony Manor. George died and Silky came to make her home with her daughter.
Three of Silky's grandchildren are now living in Cambridge--Fred D. and Stewart Betts, and Mrs. Ida B. Jackson. Fred D. possesses the will from which we have quoted, and Silky's original certificate of emancipation; also some tools that were fashioned by George Turner, his grandfather. Mrs. Jackson can relate many incidents of slavery days, told her by her grandmother.
During her long residence in Washington, Silky was faithful in her church attendance. She never learned to read, but she had an excellent memory and could quote long passages of scripture; some of it, however, was not just the same as in the Bible. Silky could sing, too, especially the old plantation melodies. Her most treasured possession was a Methodist hymnal which she always carried to church, although she could not read a word in it. When a hymn was announced she would carefully turn the pages and then sing with the others, often with the book upside down.
Silky lived to be eighty-six years of age, dying in 1886. She was buried in the Washington cemetery.
The Lawrences of Washington
Samuel Lawrence, the first of the family, came to Washington from Washington county, Pennsylvania, in 1814. Washington was then but nine years old, a group of cabins and three or four log taverns. It was on Zane’s Trace, a thoroughfare over which travel was constantly increasing. Immediately following the War of 1812 settlers from eastern states poured into Ohio, and many of them entered government land near Washington.
The future possibilities of the new town appealed to Samuel Lawrence. He bought a lot upon which was a partly finished hewed-log house, also a small tan-yard that had been owned by Jacob Saltsgaver. For thirty years he engaged in tanning leather and, at the same time, in other business. He was a large dealer in wool, a packer of pork and a buyer and seller of stock. In politics he was a strong advocate of the Jacksonian principles and he died in the Democratic faith. For several years he served as county commissioner. Mr. Lawrence was a man of large size, great strength and powerful endurance. For forty years he was an active business man in Washington and contributed much to the prosperity and welfare of the town in its early history. His death occurred in 1854.
The Three Lawrence Sons.—The three sons of this pioneer business man—William, Albert and John—assisted in their father’s business as soon as they were old enough to do so, and later, they themselves took charge of it. Two stores were operated by the brothers; William and Albert managed the general store which stood on the present site of the Frame property at the intersection of the National and Campbell’s Station-Winchester roads, and John kept a boot and shoe store a short distance east, on the same side of the street. As all three were successful merchants, they soon acquired considerable wealth; at least it was considered such in a small town in that day.
The Three Homes.—Three new homes were planned by the three men, at about the same time. Albert selected a location directly opposite the general store (Colonial Inn); William chose a spot east of this on the same side of the street (Shenandoah); and John decided to build on the lot next to his store (H. E. Richey home). The three residences were erected about the year 1857.
As the buildings are similar in many respects—the brick which were burnt in kilns on the grounds now used for the county fair, the stone which came form the same quarries, the high ceilings and interior decorations—a brief description of but one, the home of Albert Lawrence (Colonial Inn), need be given. It is much larger than either of the other two.
This building of three stories contains twenty rooms with ceilings of the first story fourteen feet high. Fireplaces with mantels were built in all the rooms on the first floor are twenty-seven feet by seventeen feet, twenty-four feet by eighteen feet, and eighteen feet by eighteen feet. The bedrooms above are the same size as these.
The ceiling decorations in relief are, perhaps, the most attractive features. They yet remain apparently as perfect as when placed there eighty years ago. The great stairways and massive woodwork finish attract much attention. The large door at the front entrance fits with almost air-tight precision, and swings on the original hinges from which it has never been removed, it is said. The home cost $37,000.00 which, when measured by the money standards of the day, was an immense sum.
Albert Lawrence engaged in business extensively in addition to the general store which he and William owned jointly. He operated three farms of his own—one near Lore City, one between Washington and Winterset, and one upon which the Forsythe coal mine was afterward located. He produced cattle, sheep and wool which he sold in eastern markets. The stone used in the construction of the Lawrence homes and also that in the foundation of the Presbyterian church was taken from quarries on the farm near Lore City and hauled to Washington by oxen.
William Lawrence.—William Lawrence, the oldest of the three, in addition to his mercantile pursuits, took an active part in politics. Early in youth he espoused the sentiments and principles of the Democratic party and, until his death, he labored for its interest and success. For a period of forty years he was one of the foremost of his party in the state. Graduating from Jefferson College in 1835, he made arrangements to study law, but his parents objected to his following the profession of his choice, so he entered business with his father in Washington.
In 1843 he was elected to the lower house of the General Assembly of Ohio, and in 1855, to the upper house. While a member of the latter he was elected to Congress, serving one term (1857-59). He was a member of the state convention that drafted the Constitution of 1851. Governor William Allen appointed him a member of the board of directors of the Ohio Penitentiary, of which body he was chosen president. He was a presidential elector in 1848, when the state cast its vote for General Cass. In 1867 he was returned to the upper house of the state legislature, and in 1872 he was again a candidate for Congress. Perhaps no other Guernsey county man ever had a longer or more successful political career than he.
It has been said that he filled all these places of public trust with honor and marked ability. As a campaign orator he was in great demand by his party throughout the state. He was both eloquent and convincing in his campaign speaking, but given to the use of cutting satire whenever the occasion demanded.
Third Generation Left Washington.—The Lawrences were active in the movement to have the county seat taken from Cambridge to Washington, and they did their part in the effort to make the latter an attractive place for it. With the coming of the railroads to Cambridge and the opening of the coal fields in that section the hopes of the Washingtonians faded away.
By the death of Simon B. Lawrence in 1913, Washington was left without any of the family that had been prominent there for a hundred years. Simon B. was the son of John Lawrence. His mother, Eleanor B. Lawrence, was a daughter of Simon Beymer who opened the “Black Bear” tavern on Zane’s Trace in 1806, and who was captain of a company in the War of 1812. Simon B. Lawrence, as were his father and two grandfathers, was active in the affairs of Washington.
The third generation of Lawrences went elsewhere to seek their fortunes. The only known descendants of the Lawrences now living in Guernsey county are the following: L. H. Merick, of The Jeffersonian, whose mother, Mrs. Kathryn Merrick, a daughter of Albert Lawrence, resided in Zanesville; Bert Lawrence, of Cambridge; and Mrs. G. P. Bell, of Wills township. The two names last are also grandchildren of Albert Lawrence.
A son of William Lawrence, William, Jr., was associated with The Jeffersonian for a time and afterwards engaged in newspaper work in Zanesville and Mansfield, Ohio. Albert, another son, after practicing law in Belmo0nt county became a Cleveland attorney. James, a third son, was a Cleveland lawyer, a common pleas judge of Cuyahoga county, and attorney general of Ohio. His son, Attorney Keith Lawrence, of Cleveland, is now (1938) president pro tempore of the Ohio Senate. Keith’s twin sister, a former assistant prosecuting attorney of Cuyahoga county, is now practicing law in Cleveland. William Lawrence, Sr., was denied the privilege of entering the profession that has apparently appealed to his descendants.
Samuel Lawrence, the pioneer business man, and his three sons are buried in the cemetery at Washington. As monuments to them are the three brick residences of unusual size and architecture, concerning which many questions have been asked. The usual reply to these questions is, “They were built by the Lawrences.” We have here tried to tell who the Lawrences of Washington were.