Early Settlers and Incidents in Coshocton County

Colonel 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 1801.

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.

The first lands located were those along the rivers. Among the first sections located were:

Second quarter, township five, range six, Elijah Backus, of Marietta;

First quarter, township five, range six, Chandler Price and Benjamin Morgan, of Philadelphia;

Second quarter, township four, range six, Michael Miller;

Third quarter, township six, range eight, third quarter, township six, range nine, Cairnoan Medowell, of Philadelphia;

Third quarter, township five, range six, third quarter, township six, range four, fourth quarter, township six, range five,

Martin Banm, of Cincinnati;

Third quarter, township four, range six, Benjamin Robinson;

Fourth quarter, township five, range five, Denman and Wells, of Essex County, New Jersey.

John 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 mentioned

George and Henry Miller,
Isaac Hoglin,
George McCulloch,
Andrew Craig,
William Whitten,
Elijah Newcomb,
Benjamin Robinson,
Abraham Sells.

Colonel 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.

Major Cass located in the Muskingum valley, fourteen miles north of Coshocton.

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.

Coshocton was 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.

Court was 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.

Among the first officers of the county were:

Cornelius P. Vankirk, sheriff
Adam Johnston, clerk and recorder
Wright Warner, prosecuting attorney
William Lockart, county surveyor
William Whitten, justice of the peace

The first 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.

The first 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 Harbaugh lot).

The first brick house in Coshocton was built in 1816, corner of Cadiz and Second streets (the Fritchey house).

Before the 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.

Coshocton was 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 short.

Caldersburgh 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.

The 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.

An incident 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 the pursuit.

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 and Canada.

This 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.

Online Resources | Ohio AHGP

Source: Ohio Annals, Historic Events, Tuscarawas and Muskingum Valleys, The State of Ohio, Edited by C. H. Mitchener, 1876




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