From The History of Montgomery County, Ohio by W. H. Beers & Company 1882

Brookville Historical Society, Inc. 2003

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP

At a session of the Commissioners, held June 10, 1805, the township bearing the above name was formed from German Township, and embraced the following territory: Bounded by the Southwest Branch of the Miami and line continuing west from the north boundary of the eighth range, between the Miami River on the north; by the Miami River on the east; by the line running west between the fifth and sixth tier of sections in the township, beginning on the river between Sections 25 and 36, in the third township, fifth, range, and continuing west to the line between the third and fourth ranges (on east line of Harding Township); thence north with said line to the first-mentioned line, comprising an extensive tract of land, from which several other townships were afterward formed. The township assumed its present form August 21, 1841, and is the territory between Madison on the north, Harrison, Miami and the Miami River on the east, Miami and German Townships on the south, and Jackson on the west. The appellation was given it in honor, of Thomas Jefferson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States. It is well watered by the following streams: Big Bear Creek, flowing in a southeasterly direction, through the eastern half of the township, from north to south; Little Bear Creek, crossing the southwest corner, and "Possum" Creek, flowing in a southern direction through the eastern part of the township and emptying into the Great Miami River, which makes a horseshoe-like curve in the southeastern corner of the subdivision. The township is traversed by improved pikes intersected by numerous dirt or summer roads, by means of which all points throughout the surrounding country can be reached. Of these, the most important are the Dayton & Germantown, Dayton & Western and the Farmersville & Carrollton. The first-named crosses the township diagonally, extending from the Soldiers' Home, in Section 1, in a southwestern direction, to the corner of Section 33, two miles from the Jackson Township line; the Dayton & Western crossing the township from east to west, forming the dividing line between this and Madison Township; the Farmersville & Carrollton crossing the southern part of the township from west to east. The C., H. & D. R. R. also passes through the southeastern corner of the subdivision, running parallel with the Great Miami River. The surface of the country is varied, being, in general, rather rolling or undulating, and, in some places, quite hilly. The highest land of the township is probably along the center of its northern part, which elevation, though decreasing in height, extends some distance southward, from which the land on either side slopes eastward and westward to the limits of the township. The hills are principally confined to the region about Bear Creeks, while a beautiful valley stretches across the southern part of the subdivision, where is found quite a broad expanse of level country. The soil is very fertile, especially in the rich bottom lands, and is well adapted for agricultural purposes, comparing favorably in point of fertility with any of Montgomery County, the richness of which with its yielding properties is hardly surpassed by any in the State. It has a variety of timber, such as sugar, hickory, walnut, ash, oak, link, beech, etc., sugar greatly predominating, while but little beech is found, which is confined to the higher elevations, and in the lowlands are much ash and walnut. The staple productions are corn, wheat and tobacco, the latter being raised in great quantities, as is evidenced by the numerous sheds dotting the township, where it is prepared for the market. The people are industrious and law-abiding, and, if we are to judge from the number of churches, a religious community, and are mainly tillers of the soil, there being but one town and village in the subdivision--Liberty and Gettersburg, the former situated in Section 9, near the center, and the latter on Big Bear Creek, in Section 28, in the southern part of the township. The National Soldiers' Home is located in this township, of which the people have great reasons to be proud, they having been so highly honored by the location of this important and beneficent institution--a Nation's gift to her defenders, within their scope of country, the natural beauty of whose lands furnished the grand site overlooking the city of Dayton and the lovely Miami Valley for miles around. It is not only the largest and most flourishing institution of the kind in this country, but one of the largest in the world. A full description of this will be given elsewhere in this work. Also in this township is located the county infirmary and the school section belonging to German Township.

EARLY SETTLERS AND SETTLEMENTS

"Never," says an early writer, "since the golden age of poets, did 'the Syren song of peace and of farming' reach so many ears, and gladden so many hearts as after Wayne's treaty at Greenville in 1795. 'The Ohio,' as it was called, seemed to be, literally, a land flowing with milk and honey. The, farmer wrote home of a soil 'richer to appearance than can possibly be made by art;' of plains and meadows without the labor of hands sufficient to support millions of cattle summer and winter; of wheat lands that would vie with the Island of Sicily; and of bogs from which might be gathered cranberries enough to make tarts for all New England, while the lawyer said that as he rode the, circuit, his horse's legs were dyed to the knee with the juice of the wild strawberry. At that time the diseases and hardships of frontier life were not dwelt upon; the administration of Washington had healed the divisions among the States; the victory of Wayne had brought to terms the dreaded savages, and, as the dweller on the barren shore of the Atlantic remembered these things and the wonderful facts, in addition, that the inland garden to which he was invited was crossed in every direction by streams even then counted on as affording means for free commercial intercourse, and that it possessed besides nearly 700 miles of river and lake coast, the inducements for emigration became too strong to be resisted; the wagon was tinkered up, at once, the harness patched anew, and a few weeks found the fortune-seeker looking down from the Chestnut ridge or Laurel Hill upon the far-reaching forests of the West." Such glowing accounts were not without results, for so soon as the treaty of Greenville and the cessation of the Indian war had removed the last obstacle to the peopling of this extensive region, the active spirit of emigration, restrained during the years of hostilities, was now set free and the living column began its Westward movement with an impetus that was destined steadily to increase till the whole vast area should be possessed and peopled During the year 1766, nearly 1,000 flat-boats passed Marietta laden with emigrants on their way to the more attractive regions of the Miami in the Southwest. Thus began the tide of emigration, the effects of which are before us. To attempt giving much of the very early history of Jefferson Township, comprising as it did originally much of the land of the county upon which settlers began squatting, many remaining permanently, as early as the close of the eighteenth century, at this late day more than three-quarters of a century ago, when the first band of pioneers came, and that generation having long since disappeared, would be impossible. However, after diligent research, we trust to be able to present many points connected with the early history of the township. The early pioneers settling in this township did not deviate from what has proved the general custom to have been, viz., to have sought elevated land along some stream or in the vicinity of a spring; this, as is apparent to the reader, was for a twofold purpose, for we find that the earliest settlement of which any knowledge can be obtained along Big Bear Creek, in the vicinity of Liberty, where, as early as the beginning of the century, amid the songs of birds, could be heard the ax of John Gripe, who, at that early day, actuated by a desire or longing to better his condition, bade adieu to the regions of the Keystone State, turning his face to the direction whither the "Star of Empire" takes its way, determined to hew out for himself and family, from the wilderness of the West, a home. Here his cabin was built, and, for years, with his better half and little ones about him, this sturdy man began the task incumbent upon all new-comers to the West. At about the same time, from Virginia, came John Miller and one Gingerick--brothers-in-law--both effecting settlements within the present limits of this subdivision. They, too, through the buoyancy of hope, left the land of their childhood and friends dear, to try their fortune

"Where rolls the tranquil waters
Of the blue Miami."

Their families accompanied them, but of what they consisted we are unable to say. They effected settlements along Bear Creek. Among those coming a little later were George Hoffman and family. Hoffman came from off "Laurel Hill," eager to leave the land of chestnuts for a home in the Western forest, beneath whose boughs and shaded turf lie hidden untold wealth. He entered a half-section of land east of Liberty, and at once, with the assistance of his estimable wife, built in the forest primeval a rude shed, which served as a place of abode for all until time and circumstances permitted of a change. Hoffman had been united in marriage with Fannie Enimert, and the union was blessed with thirteen children--Barbara, Betsey, Susie, Jacob, John, Fannie, Lydia, Katie, Sarah, Ester and Mary; the three first named were born in Pennsylvania.

Jacob Mullendore, a, native of Virginia, settled on the present, site of Gettersburg in 1802, and there lived for many years. During the war of 1812, he hauled flour to the soldiers at Greenville. In 1803, Michael Myers settled within the present limits of the township in question.

As early as the year 1804, Maryland responded to the call and sent forth Michael Moyer, who settled in Section 27. We give the date from tax duplicate of 1804, not otherwise being able to arrive at such period; that year he was taxed on 614 acres of land, located in the section above mentioned.

Michael Weaver, another of Pennsylvania's sons, emigrated to Ohio with his family in 1804, and located on Little Bear Creek, three miles north of Miamisburg, where he lived and died. His son Peter, who was eleven years old when his father came to this State, became a carpenter by trade and was a natural mechanic, being able to make almost anything from wood. He made quite a leading business of manufacturing wind-mills for many years, and made and put up the first one ever erected in Ohio, at that time being nineteen years old. He was for sixty years or more a member of the Lutheran Church. He was twice married, his second wife being Cassidiana Fisher, daughter of Frederick Fisher, who was also an early settler here, but came a few years later than the Weaver family. Mr. Weaver died July 20, 1879, aged eighty-six years, leaving his wife, who still survives at the age of eighty years, and three children, viz., John, Henry P. and Peter S., the two first named being by his first wife.

This same year came from Pennsylvania another family of Weavers, viz., Jacob Weaver, who, on the 24th of October, 1786, was united in marriage with Margaret Gebhart, both being natives of that State. Jacob entered a tract of land on Little Bear Creek; their children were Henry, Michael, Jacob, Peter, Philip, John S., Mary M., Margaret, Eva and William, of whom John and Margaret are the only survivors.

Another, whose name we omitted above as belonging to the number, who, in the early days of the year 1800, reached the Miami and crossed its swollen waters in search of a home, was Jacob Miller, "a very exemplary man, and one that played a conspicuous part in the early history of the township. At the time of his arrival in Ohio, the country was a dense forest, inhabited by numerous tribes of Indians. He was an Elder in the German Baptist Church, and it is said of him that he frequently visited them in their wigwams, and would sing and pray with them, which, together with his kind and friendly treatment toward them, led them to reverence, respect and protect him under all circumstances. They called him 'the good man the Great Spirit sent from the East.' He was born in Franklin County, Penn., in the year 1735; his parents came from Germany; he united with the church in early life and was set apart to the ministry. He married young and moved to Franklin County, Va., in the year 1765; he there labored in his official calling, and built up a large church, which still remains to this day. He located in Sections 35 and 36, possessing 286 acres. He was the first Elder of the German Baptist persuasion to settle west of that river; he labored assiduously in the cause of Christ, and, after a useful and well-spent life of fourscore years, he was summoned to meet his God, whose cause he had so long espoused, dying in the year 1815, in sight of the residence of Elder John Holler. He raised a very exemplary family of children, some of whom became eminent ministers in the church."

We are of the opinion that the John Miller herein mentioned is of this family, as the oldest son of the venerable Elder bore that name; if so, he married Phoebe McClure, raised a large family and died in Union City, Ind. The other children by name were Jacob, Tobias, Abraham, Isaac, Daniel, Samuel, Aaron, David, Mary, Eva and Anna.

Among those who came in the year 1805, were the Weavers, Stovers, Rechers, Crulls, Kripes and Kritzers; the latter, whose "head" was Andrew, emigrated from Pennsylvania; Crull (John) and Joseph Kripe settled in the vicinity of Liberty. Jacob Flory was another settler of this year, and in the vicinity just named. His wife was Mary Overhulser; they moved into Clay Township in 1817. The Rechers, consisting of Peter and Elizabeth Recher, emigrated from Frederick County, Md., by means of a four-horse wagon, bringing with them six children, viz., Jacob, John, Mary, Peter, Joseph and Daniel. The following three were born in Jefferson Township: Elias, Frederick and Louis. The mother's maiden name was Protzman. Recher bought land second-handed, purchasing 240 acres, lying in Main, about one mile west of Liberty, of John Miller. He became, before many years, a large land-owner, possessing at one time over 1,100 acres. Joseph, who now resides on the home place, is quite an old yet well-preserved man; was born in Frederick County, Md., in 1801. He married Catharine Staver, some fifty-odd years ago, and has ever since lived as located. . Peter Weaver, with his good wife, Elizabeth, whose maiden name was Heist, and with three children--Jacob, Henry and John, came from Pennsylvania and settled on Bear Creek, entering Section 18, where the rude cabin was erected and pioneer life begun. Other children were here born unto them, by name, Peter, Abraham, Ester, Elizabeth and Barbara. The boys all remained in this region and assisted in clearing much of the land in their several localities. Of the grandchildren of these venerable parents, Abraham, familiarly known as "Uncle Abe," though now quite an old man, having passed man's allotted years, is living on the old homestead, where, in the year 1808, light for the first time dawned upon his vision. He has for years been a close observer of the weather, and more recently been connected with the Dayton Journal, in preparing for it meteorological weather reports, and is sometimes styled the "Weather Prophet." He tells us that a decided change in the winters of now and then has taken place, saying "that when snow fell it usually remained all winter." Frederick Staver, whose parents, Adam and Fannie, with a number of children, settled in Jackson Township, bought land of Mr. Gingerick, 240 acres, adjoining the Peter Recher tract, entered by Miller. He had quite a large family, as did most of the pioneers. His wife's name was Elizabeth, and the children, viz., Frederick, John, Tobias, Casper, Daniel, William, Elias, Catharine, Elizabeth, Mariah, Sarah and Rebecca. Each succeeding year brought new-comers, and additional cabins graced the hillsides of the dense wood, and the sound of the pioneer's ax was heard, and the smoke of his cabin chimney ascended from more than one peaceful settlement, and little by little civilization was making good its advance.

Henry Hepner, Isaac Miller, John Snepp and Jacob Diehl came in 1806. Hepner and wife (Mary Hyser) emigrated from Virginia; both were originally from Pennsylvania, Lancaster County, where Henry was born in 1762. He entered 160 acres of land in the northeastern part of Jackson Township, bordering on Jefferson, and built his first cabin, which was rude indeed, in the township first spoken of. In the building of this a happy thought struck him, which he took advantage of. A huge oak stood on the site located for his place of abode, and, in felling it, great care was exercised to leave the stump a certain height; this was properly dressed and the cabin raised over it; suffice to say it was the table of that home for years, and, while it was not one of the veneered tables of to-day, it, nevertheless, was a substantial one, and must have worn an air of solidity that was charming--thus illustrative of the old aphorism--"Necessity is the mother of invention." Mr. Hepner soon added to his farm by purchasing a tract of land in Jefferson, adjoining that entered by him. In a few years, he built again, and this time in Jefferson Township.

His parents accompanied them, they being natives of Germany. His father died in 1813. Henry was a blacksmith and a very ingenious kind of a man; made his own knives and forks and proved a very useful and much-needed addition to the settlements for miles around. How fitting here the lines of the poet:

"The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands."

He died, aged seventy-three, his wife living to be ninety-seven; they had six children--George, Polly, John. Sophia, Lydia and Diana, the two first and two last-mentioned being twins. His daughter, "Aunt Lydia" Shanefelt, a true type of the pioneer women, is now residing on the homestead, where the youthful days of her childhood were passed, having seen the frosts of over threescore and ten winters. Isaac Miller and family, composed of his wife Elizabeth and several children, came with the Hepners from Virginia, and entered a quarter-section of land on what is known as the Jacob Hoover place. Jacob Diehl and family arrived this year from Pennsylvania and settled in the vicinity of Liberty, entering 160 acres in Section 7. John, Jacob, Jr., Abraham, Nancy and Elizabeth are the children who were born to them in the Keystone State, and came thither with them. The family here resided many years, when they removed into Perry Township, where the father died, in 1874, in his eighty-fifth year. By trade, he was a cabinet maker, and did quite an extensive business in making coffins for the pioneers. His son John was about seventeen years of age when they arrived in Montgomery County. He later married Susanna Miller, daughter of Isaac Miller above mentioned. Mr. Miller served in the Revolutionary war. John Diehl was the father of ten children, seven of whom are now living. He died August 26, 1874.

John and Margaret Snepp, with two children--Leonard and Eve--came from Lancaster County, Penn., and temporarily lived on the Joseph Recher faun, but, in a few years, settled near Liberty, on the farm now owned by Simon Gebhart, on which now resides William Getter. In after years, they wore blessed with two more children--Sarah and John, the latter born in 1808, and now resides on a very fine tract of land near Gettersburg. As early as 1798 could be seen one of Jefferson Township's pioneers in the person of David Bowman, whose name will long be remembered in connection with the early religious history of this section of Ohio, drifting, as it were, with his good wife and rudely constructed raft down the Ohio, on his way to the country about the Little Miami River, whither he was going, to build a mill for parties who had preceded him. The mill was erected, and, Bowman, impressed with the country, remained, and, after living in the locality and milling several years, removed to the neighborhood of Miamisburg and there lived several years, thence to Jefferson Township, buying a quarter-section of land of George Kunz, in the northwestern part of the subdivision. He was a minister of the Gospel, belonging to the denomination called German Baptists. He was instrumental in establishing several churches west of the Great Miami and labored faithfully for the cause of Christ. He was born near Hagerstown, Md., March 30, 1775, and, at the age of eighteen, went to Frankstown, Penn., and learned the trade of a cabinet-maker. He was united in marriage with Barbara Bouser, and there were born to them six children--Ester, John, Polly, Katie, David and Betsy. He died April 20, 1860, and his wife February 8, 1865, in her ninety-first year.

Andrew Noffsinger lived on land next to David Bowman, Sr., John and Dan Noffsinger living in the vicinity of the Noffsinger Church; all were old pioneers. In the year 1812 came, from Morrison Cove, Penn., Adam Shock and family, and settled where Jonas Shock now lives. The children were Martin, Jacob, Daniel, Jonas, Adam, Catharine, Nancy, Barbara, Michael, Lucy and Elizabeth.

About the year 1815, Daniel Neff, a Kentuckian, was added to the settlement. His wife was a daughter of Peter Weaver. Mrs. Neff died in 1825, and he in 1851. The following year came from Pennsylvania Jacob Harp and wife, Elizabeth Bowman. He served in the war of 1812. In 1818, David Wertz and family settled on land to the south of Abram Weaver. Wertz hailed from Berks County, Penn., in the year 1812, but stopped a few years in Warren County. George and Catharine (Marker) Patten settled in the eastern part of the township in the year 1819, having purchased 154 acres of land of David Bowman. They were from the Middletown Valley, Frederick County, Md. In 1820, came John Getter, from Pennsylvania. Thus is given a brief sketch of some of the hardy sons of toil, who sacrificed the comforts of home and friends, and encountered the hardships and braved the dangers of a frontier life, converting the-forests into the fine farms of the present and making possible the high state of civilization and advancement attained.

CHURCHES

The earliest denominations to effect church organizations in the township were the German Baptists, the Lutherans and German Reformed. These began their labors at the same time the first ray of civilization illumined the great forest. Elder Jacob Miller, a sketch of whose life is given above, was the first to preach to the pioneers of this vicinity. Services were then held in the groves, which were "God's first temples," and in each other's cabins, until after the building of schoolhouses and meeting-houses. The Rev. David Bowman was also one of the very early German Baptist ministers, a colleague of Miller. The first meeting-house of the township was a union one, built jointly by the Lutheran and German Reformed people in the year 1812. It was constructed of hewed logs, one story high, with an extensive gallery, and was a model structure for the day, each of the male members hewing his share and hauling them to the site selected. This was known as Salem Church and stood in the eastern part of Section 28. The organization of the Lutheran denomination was effected by the Rev. Mr. Dill, who was their first minister. Some of the early families were the Snepps, the Gebharts, the Stavers, the Weavers (Jacob's family), the Apples and the Heeters. Of the Reformed denomination were the Rechers and the Leichtys. Organized by the Rev. Thomas Winters. Both sects worshiped in this church until the erection of the present brick building in 1860. This stands a little south of the old site, and is likewise one story in height, with a gallery; has a spire and bell; the latter was cast at the Buckeye Foundry, Cincinnati, costing $200. The church cost about $3,000. Rev. C. Albrecht and Rev. Peter Prugh are the present pastors of the Lutheran and German Reformed Churches respectively.

Returning again to the German Baptists, of whom we can say but little respecting their early church history, as no records are in existence, and those to whom such details were familiar have taken their last sleep. However, we can safely say that as early as the year 1808, several societies were organized in this section. About that time, Elder David Bowman effected the organization now at the Bear Creek Church, and Elder Jacob Miller the one at the Holler Church, formerly known as the Noffsinger Church. It would be well to add that the Bear Creek Church is, perhaps, better known as the Bowman Church. The Bowmans, Diehls, Wolfs, Ullerys, Shiveleys and Metzgers were some of the early families belonging to the Bowman society. Also the Weavers. And to the other society, the Noffsingers, Huffmans and Claglors. The Bowman society built their first church in the year 1838. It was of brick, but small, and was replaced in about 1850 by the present building, which is likewise of brick, one story, having a basement, valued at $2,000. Preachers in the district who serve the charge are Revs. Mr. Fitzgerald, Isaac Bright, and John Bowman, Jr.; membership about 100. The Miller society erected their first church in about the year 1847, on ground donated by Eli and Samuel Noffsinger. This was a one-story brick, and was replaced by the present commodious one in 1871. It is a very substantial building, one story in height, and has a basement. It is constructed of brick and cost in the neighborhood of $3,500. Elder George Holler is in charge; membership over 100. The Dunkards, as they are generally called, are frugal and industrious, and are also a plain and good class of people, and, in demeanor, are very much like the Friends or Quakers. The German Reformed Church, called the "Mount Carmel Church," located on Section 12, on the Dayton & Germantown pike, was organized in 1853, by the Rev. David Winters, and the present brick edifice erected in 1873, at a cost of nearly $2,000. In the year 1853, a one-story brick church was built within a mile of this site by the organization in question, which served them during the intervening years. Rev. Adam Hawker is the present pastor, and the membership is eighty. St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized and the house built in 1872. It is a one-story brick and cost $3,000. Prior to the year 1872, the members of this church worshiped at Providence Church, in Perry Township, but the distance for the members in this locality being so far, and especially for the aged, for convenience' sake many withdrew and established the one named, which is located in the northern part of Section 5, on the Eaton pike. The present incumbent is Rev. C. H. Albrecht.

SCHOOLS

Among the early schoolhouses in the township were the following, standing on the sites designated: One at the intersection of the Farmersville & Germantown pikes, near Gettersburg, which was the first, as far as we have been able to learn, built in the township. School was held here as early as 1809 or 1810, taught by a Mr. Brown. At a little later date, there was a schoolhouse on the Eli Ebberly farm, in which both German and English were taught by one Clinger. Another of the early schoolhouses stood on Section 18, on the Peter Weaver place. One Oblinger, a Jew, was the teacher. Prior to the building of this, he held school in a cabin, having been vacated by Peter Weaver. These schools were all sustained by subscription, there being then no other mode of supply. The first law enacted in Ohio making any provisions for public schools was in 1821, but nothing was accomplished, and, in 1825, a further act was passed mandatory in its character, commanding the districting of each township. In 1838, provision was made for the building of district schoolhouses. However, as numerous as were the laws on this subject, it was a number of years before the cessation of subscription schools and the adoption of the present public school system; and for years intervening between, the schools were partially carried on by subscription, some public money being used. There are now eleven districts in the township, with as many substantial brick buildings, in which school is held from six to eight months each year.

The amount appropriated annually for school purposes is about $6,000. The school property in the township is-valued at $16,000. The enrollment is now 913 scholars. The house in District No. 11, a one-story building, was erected in the summer of 1880, on ground purchased of Daniel Peffly, for $170, at a cost of $1,490; that in No. 10 was built in 1874, and cost about $3,000. In Districts 2 and 4, the houses are two stories in height.

EARLY ENTERPRISES

Big Bear Creek furnished excellent water privileges, which were taken advantage of and utilized by the pioneers. A carding and fulling machine was in operation on this stream one old Abraham Mullendore farm at a very early day, but when and by whom built is lost to the memory of the few men of old who are yet with us. The first saw and grist mills for the township were built, the first about the year 1807 or 1808, and the latter several years later, by Henry Weaver; they were located in Section 18, on Big Bear Creek. The water-wheel of the grist-mill was constructed by Martin Saylor. It had one set of buhrs made of "gray-heads;" the bolt was turned by hand. These mills stood a long time and were afterward rebuilt by "Uncle Abe" Weaver, who was the miller for some time at the Weaver Mill. The saw-mill is still carried on, but the other is idle; Not long after the year 1810, John Stump built a fulling-machine in connection with a mill on Bear Creek, at the present site of the saw-mill at Gettersburg. As early as 1806, a Mr. Myers carried on a still-house in the vicinity of Gettersburg. Jacob Weaver was also engaged in distilling liquors. Jacob Mullendore carried on quite an extensive tannery in the days of the early pioneers, on Bear Creek, on the farm now occupied by John Snepp, Jr. Here, either this man or his father erected a log cabin, which still stands, though it has long since been weather-boarded, and is probably the oldest house in the township. Henry Hepner, as we have before intimated, was the first blacksmith, and gave attention to the needs of the pioneers in his line.

GRAVEYARDS

It was generally customary with the early settlers to inter their dead on their own land. This custom was observed for years, but in time it was given up to a certain extent, and land was set apart for burial purposes. There are five of these grounds in the township. The largest and probably first was the graveyard at the Lutheran and Reformed Church at Gettersburg. The ground was purchased by these people of a Mr. Brown for the purpose of a burying ground and erecting a church. It was never regularly laid out into lots, and any were at liberty to bury there. Several additions were made to this, the latest in the year 1878, when an acre of ground was purchased of George Miller for $400. This has been laid out into lots, which are sold as those in the cemeteries of the day. In the deed of the original tract, it was stipulated that no lots were to be sold. Interments were made here before the erection of the first church. The entire grounds are thrown together and include about two acres, neatly fenced. It is beautifully situated and will soon be classed as one of the handsomest cemeteries of the county. It is now dotted with fine monuments, beneath whose columns and marble slabs sleep many of the pioneers. While strolling through this peaceful city of the dead, our attention was attracted by the following epitaph, which, to our mind, seemed singular; hence, we give it:

"Remember, friends, as you pass by,
As on are now, so once was I;
As I am now so you must, be;
Prepare for death and follow me."

The person to whose memory these lines were inscribed was one of the old pioneers who departed this life in June, 1817.

What is known as the Forney Graveyard, comprising about one-half acre of ground, lying west of Liberty, is also one of the very early burying-grounds. The Nicholas yard, near that church, is second in size, and interments were likewise made there in early days. The remaining two, one at the United Brethren Church, in Liberty, and the other south of that town, are small. Of the origin of these, we have been unable to derive any knowledge.

TOWNS AND VILLAGES

The little town of Liberty is situated near the center of the township, and contains a population of about 225. Although several cabins were clustered about the site of the town for years prior to 1815, it was not laid out into town lots and platted until December of that year. The land was owned by Peter Becher, and by him laid out. Why it was so named is buried in the past, but were we permitted to offer a solution it would be that the word expressed to the pioneers a sentiment most dear. They were lovers of freedom. Originally, there were seventy-two lots. A bachelor by the name of William Brown built the first of a cluster of cabins referred to and in it dwelt in lonely bliss, and there opened the first store in the township. He was not contented to remain confined to the trade of the neighborhood, and so occasionally went on a tour of peddling. This was about the year 1809. In 1819, there were probably fifteen houses in the town; among them was the brick tavern now kept by John Baker, but then by John A. Mikesell, and later, by one Deardorf. It has been a tavern stand ever since. A log schoolhouse stood in the town, in which school was taught by a Yankee named Cocase. Soon after this date, Solomon Sanford opened a store in the west end of town. Henry Hipple then came to the front, and, in a few years, opened out and carried on a store surpassing any in Dayton at that time. The post office was established there in April, 1821, with Henry Hipple as Postmaster. Hipple was a very enterprising and useful man, and, in later years, became Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. The blacksmith of the town then cannot now be named. Sanford, too, was one of the live men of the community. John Turner, a resident of Liberty, represented the county in the State Legislature at an early period. John Houtz, John Burnett and Henry Hipple were early Squires, or Justices of the Peace, of the township. Prior to the establishment of the post office at Liberty, a Mr. Skinner was employed by the pioneers of that vicinity to carry their mail matter to and from Dayton. This was done on horseback. There are now in Liberty two stores, a shoeshop, two blacksmith-shops, a wagon-making-shop, one hotel, post office, a schoolhouse (two-story brick) and two churches--Lutheran and United Brethren. In 1819, there were two religious societies worshiping here--the United Brethren and New Light; the latter was short-lived. Their meetings were held at private residences and in the schoolhouse. Rev. Antrim was the pastor of the former and Rev. "Dady" Worley of the latter denomination. The United Brethren continued their services in this wise until the year 1844, whoa they built a one-story brick church on the site of the present building, which is also a one-story brick, erected in 1874, at a cost of about $3,000. The present pastor is Rev. J. W. Boby. The new building was dedicated by Bishop Weaver. About the year 1845, the Lutheran, New Light and Methodist denominations (and, possibly, others) built the old frame church still standing as a union church. Here they all worshiped and here, also, their "lights" went out. A re-organization of the Lutheran Church as St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church was effected at the old frame church May 10, 1879, with forty-six- members. Present pastor, Rev. James Swick. In 1880, the present church building was erected, costing $3,500. It is a very imposing structure, one story high, with a spire and bell. The village of Gettersburg is located in the southern part of the township, on Big Bear Creek. It derived its name from Jacob Getter, who formerly owned the land on its present site, and who sold the lots for the purpose of beginning the village. These lots were sold about the year 1855. Several years ago, John Snepp, Sr., made an addition to the village. The post office is Ellerton, established in October, 1879, with George Winder as Postmaster. It has one wagon-making-shop and a tobacco-box manufactory, a steam saw-mill, a church, a two-story schoolhouse (of brick), two blacksmith shops, one store and a saloon.

Brookville Historical Society, Inc. 2003

1999 - 2009 Brookville Historical Society, Inc.