Early Settlers and Incidents in
Charles Williams was the first settler in Coshocton County. Born
in Washington County, Maryland, in 1764. He married Susannah
Carpenter, on the banks of the Ohio River, in the vicinity of
Wheeling; emigrated to the salt works, on the Muskingum River,
and after remaining there for a time removed to the forks of the
Muskingum, and built a cabin on the bank of the river where
Coshocton now stands. This was in the year 1800.
The next year
George and Thomas Carpenter, his brothers-in-law, arrived; also
William and Samuel Morrison. These men, making their home with
Colonel Williams the first year, raised a crop of corn on "the
prairie," four miles up White Woman's Creek. This was probably
the first crop of corn raised in the county, and was in the year
The same year
(1801) Michael Miller located the second quarter, township four,
range six. He lived seven weeks on venison, bear meat and other
game, without bread of any kind.
lands located were those along the rivers. Among the first
sections located were:
quarter, township five, range six, Elijah Backus, of Marietta;
quarter, township five, range six, Chandler Price and Benjamin
Morgan, of Philadelphia;
quarter, township four, range six, Michael Miller;
quarter, township six, range eight, third quarter, township six,
range nine, Cairnoan Medowell, of Philadelphia;
quarter, township five, range six, third quarter, township six,
range four, fourth quarter, township six, range five,
quarter, township four, range six, Benjamin Robinson;
quarter, township five, range five, Denman and Wells, of Essex
County, New Jersey.
Matthews, surveyor of Marietta, made a number of the early
locations for non-residents, receiving a certain part of the
land as his compensation. There were thirty-three military
sections located in Coshocton County.
Among the early settlers should be
Williams kept the first tavern, the first store, and the first
ferry. The house which he first erected was burned after a few
years, with the loss of two children. He rebuilt on the same
lot, and here, after the county was organized, court was held.
The hardships of frontier life may be illustrated by the fact
that Colonel Williams' daughter, at the age of twelve years,
would sometimes ride on horseback to the White-eyes Plains (six
miles) for a sack of grain; the next day go with the grain to
mill at Zanesville, and return the third day.
located in the Muskingum valley, fourteen miles north of
From 1805 to
1812 the population of the county increased very rapidly, as is
shown by the fact that Coshocton County, embracing at that time
part of what is now Holmes County, furnished four companies for
the war of 1812: one company of volunteers under the command of
Captain Adam Johnston; and three companies of drafted men, under
the command of Captains Tanner, Beard and Evans.
laid out in 1802, by Ebenezer Buckingham and John Matthews, of
Marietta, under the name of Tuscarawa. The comity was organized,
and the name of the county seat changed, in April, 1811. The
first townships organized were Tuscarawas, Washington, New
Castle, Franklin, Oxford, and Linton.
first held in Coshocton County in April, 1811, little was done
at this term, except to order elections for justices of the
peace in several of the townships. Court also sat in September,
at which time several minor cases were disposed of. The first
case in which there were any pleadings filed was at the December
term, 1811, Charles Williams vs. Adam Marpley; Lewis Cass,
attorney for plaintiff; John Howard, attorney for defendant;
judge, William Wilson; associates, William Mitchell, Isaac
Evans, and Peter Casey; judgment of $9.56 in favor of plaintiff.
first officers of the county were:
Adam Johnston, clerk and recorder
Wright Warner, prosecuting attorney
William Lockart, county surveyor
William Whitten, justice of the peace
resident physician was Dr. Samuel Lee, who located here in 1811.
Rev. J. W. Pigman, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who lived
in the western part of the county, and Rev. Timothy Harris, of
the Congregational Church, Utica, used to preach here
occasionally about the beginning of the war of 1812. The first
Sunday-school was organized in the year 1824, under the
superintendence of James Renfrew.
mill in the county was built several years before the war of
1812, by Jesse Fulton, one mile south-east of Coshocton, on the
farm since known as the Benjamin Rickets place. A mill run by
horse power was erected soon after this on lot numbered two
hundred and sixteen, corner of Cadiz and Second streets (the
brick house in Coshocton was built in 1816, corner of Cadiz and
Second streets (the Fritchey house).
construction of the Ohio Canal, goods were brought from
Pittsburgh to Coshocton in keel-boats, via Marietta a slow and
laborious method. Letters came from Philadelphia in twenty-five
days, postage twenty-five cents.
visited by the "cold plague" in 1814, quite a number of fatal
cases occurring in the town and vicinity.
It is said
that Louis Philippe, afterward king of France, visited Coshocton
in the character of a schoolmaster, during his exile. His
aristocratic notions were not in keeping with the republican
ideas and rude manners of the frontier, and his stay was very
was laid out in 1816, on the west bank of the Muskingum, by
James Calders. A large addition was subsequently laid out north
of the old town, and the name changed to Roscoe.
completion of the canal marks an important epoch in the material
prosperity of Coshocton, and other counties in the valley, as it
afforded an outlet for the enormous crops of wheat which were
raised after the clearing away of the forests.
of those early days may be worth preservation: Five or six
runaway slaves, from Virginia, made their way to Coshocton, and
were quartered at the house of Pryor Foster, a colored man. Word
had reached the citizens beforehand of their escape, a large
reward being offered for their capture; but such was the
popularity of Foster among the white people, that they were
willing to assist in the escape of the refugees. Foster kept
them in his house, and stood guard outside all night, to prevent
any possible interference. The next morning he took them across
the river and hid them in a cave a mile west of Caldersburgh.
The pursuers soon after made their appearance, pretty confident
of overtaking the slaves, having traced them in this direction.
But no satisfactory information was to be obtained. Some show of
violence was also offered, and they rode out of town and gave up
When it was
certain that the coast was clear, Foster took them to the White
Woman River, and took them to travel up the stream, giving them
such farther directions as would enable them to reach Lake Erie
occurrence was about the time of the construction of the Ohio
Canal. The slaves were afterward captured some distance
north-west of Coshocton, and taken back to Virginia.
Source: Ohio Annals, Historic Events,
Tuscarawas and Muskingum Valleys, The State of Ohio, Edited by
C. H. Mitchener, 1876