Fayette County History & Genealogy

History of Fayette County

From R. S. Dills' History of Fayette County


The following synopsis of life at Washington, its progress in business, educational aftairs, and personnel of its citizens, is taken from the Cincinnati Gazette:

It has always been a question why it was that this vilhige received the name of Washington. We can understand that C. H. stood for Court House, but why the Washington? Was it in honor of the capital city, or was it in honor of the father of his country, because the then inhabitants were so truthfnl that, like George, after cutting down his father's cherry tree, they could not tell a lie? Fayette County, of which it is the county-seat, was named for Marquis de Lafayette, who so nobly fought for American liberty by the side of the aforesaid George. It is a county abounding in big farms, great wealth, and the fine culture of its inhabitants. It is sometimes jocularly called Little Bristle, and thereby hangs a tale—a tale of pigs. The following is the story: Its territory was once a part of Ross County, and it was sliced off to form Fayette. Now, in those early days in Ohio, it was a common thing for the settlers to permit their hogs to run at large to feed upon the nuts and acorns that were so plentiful in the forests. In time many of them became wild, and the ownership in such ceased. These multiplied, and it became so that when a settler wanted some pork, he would take down his gun and whistle up his dog, and start for the brush to give chase to the wild hogs. Having found one, his dog would chase it down, the settler would shoot it, and pack it home to replenish his larder. These hogs were long legged, with thin bodies like a sunfish, and had bristles along their backs that stood up when the hogs were aroused like quills on the back of a porcupine. This hunting of the wild hog continued so long in the hills of Ross County that it became known as Big Bristle, and when Fayette County was detached it at once took the name of Little Bristle.

This has become quite a railroad center, by reason of the foresight and enterprise of its business men. They were imbued with a desire to build up their town, and hence let no opportunity slip by of getting a railroad into the town. The first road was the Muskingum Valley, then known as the C, W. & I. This was built in 1853. Since, there are the Dayton & Southeastern and the Springlield & Jackson. A narrow gauge road, known as the Cincinnati, Washington & Columbus, has been projected and built. It connects with the Cincinnati Northern at Waynesville. The Springfield & Jackson and the Dayton & Southeastern both tap the coal fields in Southeastern Ohio, and as a result coal is placed in the cellars of consumers at five cents per bushel less than to consumers on the line of the M. V. between Washington and Morrow,

Quite a good line of business is transacted. The grocery trade is represented by Stimson Brothers, Brownell Brothers, George Dahl, John Millikan & Co., C. L. Getz, and others. In dry goods, Melvin, Silcott & Co., Craig Brothers, Mr. O'Brien, O. Wrensch, Antrim & Eycke, E. Saul, and Glickman & Co. In books and stationery, Richard Millikan, D. C. Foster & Co., and Henry Hildebrant. Mr. Millikan has been in the business for many years. For fifteen years he was clerk of the court of this county. He is a son of Jesse Millikan, one of the early settlers, who was the first clerk of the county. Henry Hildebrant is an importation from Wilmington, formerly of the house of J. & H. Hildebrant. He is also engaged in the sale of sewing machines. In the drug line there are O. A. Allen, H. W. Boyer, W. A. Harlow, H. C. Coffman, and Brown Brothers; the latter an old firm, well established, and owning another drug store in Wilmington. In grain dealers there are J. D. Stiickey & Co., Draper & McElwaine, Burnett, Gillespie & Co., and Talbot & Co. In livery there are the stables of George I. Bailey, Foster & Fuller, and 0. S, Collins. There are but two hotels, the Cherry House, and the Arlington. The latter is under the management of Messrs. Fuller & Owens, late of Delaware, Ohio.

In the way of newspapers, the business is perhaps overdone. There is the Republican, edited by Mr. Gardner; the Herald, by Honorable William Millikan, now representing this county in the legislature; and the Register, edited and published by H. V. & J. D. Kerr. Mr. Millikan is one of the oldest newspaper men in the state. Mr. H. V. Kerr is state librarian. His term will expire March 17. J. D. Kerr is a son of H. V. Kerr. The two former papers are Republican in polities, the latter Democratic.

The court house is a very plain structure, built of brick. It is dark, damp, dingy, and dilapidated, and not at all in keeping with the town. A new one is to be built in the course of a few years. Judge Ace Gregg is on the bench holding court, and a grand jury in session attended by the prosecuting attorney, F. G. Carpenter. Of lawyers, there are more than two score, prominent among whom are : M. Pavey, Mills Gardner, H. L. Hadley, H. B. Maynard, M. J. Williams, C. A. Palmer. J. B. Priddy is judge of the probate court.

The pride of Washington is its public schools. These are under the care of Professor John P. Patterson, superintendent, one of the ablest and most efficient educators in Ohio, assisted by the following corps of teachers : Mr. E. H. Mark and Mrs. J. C. VonBuhlow, principals of the high school: Misses Ella Sinks, Alma Kephart, Tinnie Cleaveland, Lottie Cleaveland, and Emma McKee, teachers in the grammar school; and Misses Ella Pitzer, Anna Bell, Mollie Foster, and Callie Wherrett, teachers in the primary department. These are all teaching in one building: a large three story brick, with a double stairway in the center leading to upper floors. In that part of the town called Sunny Side, and which lies across the creek, there is another school building—a neat, tidy brick—of two rooms, wainscoted, airy, and comfortable, with vestibule for hanging wraps, hats and caps. In these rooms are children of the primary department, under the tutelage of H. B. Maynard, jr., and Miss Lida Pine. In another part of town is the colored school building of two rooms, where they are two teachers employed, Mr. L. C. D. Anderson and Miss Florence G. Treat. Too much can not be said in praise of tlie scliools here. The discipline is excellent, the scholars intelligent, studious, and obedient, and the teachers kind, energetic, and painstaking. Six of the teachers are graduates of the high school, and one, Miss Treat, of Colurnbus high school. In connection with the school, and in use by the teachers and pupils are a geological cabinet, philosophical and chemical apparatus, conchological cabinet, maps, globes, library, etc., which afford fine facilities for research and investigation.

The collectors office of the sixth district of Ohio is located here, James Pursell being the collector. He was appointed in 1869, and up to Jannary 1, 1881, had collected revenue to the amount of $7,338,989.27. The collections in 1880 aggregated $633,578.60. In addition to this there are 17,432 packages of liquors in the bonded warehouses in this district, on which the tax, if collected now, would amount to $512,982. Under the law of March 1, 1879, spirits can remain in bond three years before being taxed. Five hundred and eighty-one barrels of apple brandy were manufactured in this district last fall, the principal manufactory being at New Richmond. Within the last year there has been exported from this district 4,820 gallons of whisky, of which 1,938 gallons went to the Bermuda Islands, and 2,882 to New Brunswick.

A portion of this liquor goes to supply the saloons here, of which there are twenty-five. This is the cloud that casts the only shadow on the town. Turn on what street you may, near the central part of town, and you see them with their painted glass in the windows, and the screens near the doorway. It is sad to contemplate the vast amount of vice and crime that flows from them. There is an ordinance of the village that requires them to close up at 9 o'clock ' in the evening, but we are told that it is not enforced. Boys attending the public school have been known to patronize these places, but as a consequence, they soon lose interest in the school and finally drop out and never return. It is a sad and dreary feature of this town.

Union Township