Ross Township, named in honor of James Ross, was laid off by the county commissioners in 1812, with thirty-six sections, but later the upper tier was taken to form part of Brush Creek, leaving it with an area of thirty square miles. It lies to the north of Salem and east of Springfield, the northern half being rough and hilly, and the southern part a good farming section. Before 1800 and as late as 1805, "squatters" built cabins on Yellow Creek, subsisting on game and fish, and as salt was a product of this region, these "squatters" had little trouble in obtaining such merchandise needed by them in barter for this mineral. Among these squatters were: William Castleman, Mark Dike, John Bruce, John Davis, Jacob Drake and William Roach. Among the first permanent settlers (1798-1813) were: Thomas George, Allen Speedy, Arthur Latimer, Stephin Coe, Ludowich Hardenbrook, Joseph Elliott, William Scott, John Farquhar, Henry Crabbs, Joseph Reed, Isaac Shane, Thomas Bay, a participant in the Gnadenhutten tragedy; Mordecai Moore, "Daddy" Dixon, Robert Barnhill, John McEldery, Alexander Johnston, William Grimes, Captain Allen (War of 1812), Henry Gregg (grandfather of Richard Henry Gregg, Esq., of the Steubenville bar), coming from Redstone with his brother Richard in 1802, the latter attaining the age of 105 years; Robert George and Thomas George, his son (from what is now Dauphin County, Pennsylvania), came to Jefferson County in 1805, and settled on Section 28, in what is now Ross Township; Andrew Griffin, Benjamin Shane, John Shane. James Shane came to Washington County, Pennsylvania, from New Jersey in 1794, and in 1798 crossed the Ohio River at Cable's Ferry and located on Wills Creek. Here he married Hannah Rex, of Greene County, Pennsylvania, and in 1810 moved to Island Creek Township, and then to Ross Township. The widow of his son, Isaac Shane, is now keeping a hotel in East Springfield. Mordecai Moore, Sr., who was with Capt. William Harbaugh in the War of 1812, settled in Ross Township in 1815. Moore was stolen by slave-drivers on a street in London when a small boy and brought to Philadelphia, where he was sold to a Quaker, who held him in bondage until he reached his majority, when he was given his freedom, together with a mattock and shovel, and no doubt a blessing, as recompense for the long and faithful service to the benevolent Friend. Henry Crabs located in 1798, the year after Steubenville was laid out. He was accompanied by his wife, the two having all they possessed tied in a quilt. They crossed the river to the site of Steubenville in a skiff. The settlement was very sparse, he in his life time mentioning "Hans Wilson, Esq., Cable and Black Harry as among the few inhabitants." Crabs erected the first blacksmith shop one mile east of the John Kilgore farm, near richmond, where he did work for the settlers, there being quite a number of families in that vicinity. He made plow points, axes and trace chains, all the raw material having to be packed across the mountains.
Salt springs were noticed by the very earliest settlers on Yellow Creek; in fact, were known to the Indians as well as the four-footed denizens of the forest, and when the government surveys were made Section 34 was retained as public land, containing valuable mineral. This, however, did not prevent the settlers from utilizing the springs in the manufacture of salt, which was then worth $8 a bushel in the Ohio Valley. Henry Daniels in 1802 erected a small furnace for boiling the salt water. He sunk a hollow sycamore log in an upright position at the spring, and from this the salt water was dipped into the boiling kettles, producing about three bushels per day, a crude process certainly, but profitable at the then prevailing prices. When Isaac Shane went there in 1803 for salt he found so many waiting customers there ahead of him that he returned with out it. Wood was used for fuel in these furnaces, but about 1820 coal was substituted by Mordecai Moore, and the salt water was pumped into a reservoir and conducted by means of wooden pipes back to the bluff where the fuel was obtained. But the supply from the spring was limited and the brine was weak, consequently the product was not nearly equal to the demand. At this juncture, John Peterson, an ex-territorial constable, conceived the idea of boring a well. The facilities were very poor, the work being done by hand, assisted by a spring pole. But perseverance prevailed and at a depth of 300 feet a flow of salt water was struck "strong enough to carry an egg." Other wells followed, and a plentiful supply obtained. In the meantime Mr. Moore had substituted shallow pans for evaporating the water, superseding the old kettles, and carried on business for a number of years until competition at other points made it unprofitable. Stewart McClave purchased a part of Section 34 in 1826, and just in front of the family residence on Yellow Creek is a mound five feet high and several rods in diameter, composed of cinder, which marks the site of the old United States Salt Works. Mr. Moore's works were not all in Section 34, for he afterwards moved to Section 28, father [sic] east, where he founded what was known as Moore's Salt Works or Mooretown, although the word "town" must be used here in a very restricted sense as applicable to the small collection of buildings around the grist mill which was operated for many years, and the store kept by Lewis Moore. For some unexplainable reason the postoffice name was changed to Pravo, which finally disappeared with the progress of the rural free delivery. In fact, the present Ross Township never had a regular town or village within its borders, being exclusively a rural community. There is no postoffice in the township. Early indications of oil and later efforts in searching for the oleaginous fluid are related in the chapter on that subject.
Townships elections were held at the residence of Henry Crab until 1850 and afterwards at school house No. 3.William Scott, the first justice of the peace, resided on Section 32.
Robert George, a native of the township, born March 27, 1806, started the first store in the township at Mooretown in 1828, and has left an enduring landmark to his name by a gray sandstone monument erected by him in 1871, at a cost of $700, to the memory of the soldiers of Ross Township, who lost their lives in the war of the rebellion. It stands on a bluff overlooking the creek, resting on a stone platform seven feet square, being a doric column, including its capital twenty-one feet high. On the western face of the base is the inscription, "To the memory of the fallen soldiers of Ross Township, Jefferson County, Ohio, in the War of 1861 to 1865." Dies are inserted bearing the following names: "Thomas, son of Robert and Martha George, Second regiment. O. V. J. [sic], killed at Perryville, Ky., October 8, 1862; Thomas Duke, Thirty-second, died August 27, 1864; John Duke, First Tennessee battery, died August 27, 1864; James Dorrance, Second, O. V. I., died March 31 1862; Robert McClave, Fifty-second, died January 14, 1863; Barton Gerin, Second, killed May 8, 1864; Elbridge Green, Eighth Iowa Cavalry, died 1862; David Potts, Thirty-second, killed 1864; James Russell, Second, died April 14, 1862; John Porter, Second, killed April, 1864; David Call, Second, died 1863; Isaiah Call, Second, died 1863; J. Kirkpatrick, Thirty-second, died 1864; Alfred Walters, Second, died 1864; Samuel F. McLain, Second, died 1863; Thomas B. Starn, Thirty-second, died August 4, 1864; G. W. Graley, One Hundred and Twenty-second, died October 20, 1863; John Stewart, Second, died in prison, 1864; Aaron Scamp, Thirty-second, died 1864; David Kriner, Second, died 1862; Jacob Kriner, same; Enos Striker, Second, died 1864; H. K. Crabs, Fifty-second, died November 3, 1863; Adam Sauer, One Hundered and Seventy-Eighth, died January 14, 1865; Stanley Shane, Second, died November 23, 1863; Newton Wycoff, Fifty-second, died June 1864; William Rea, Second, died a prisoner, August, 1864; Benjamin Rea, Fifty-second, died October, 1863; Ross Coyle, One Hundred and Twenty-second killed December 4, 1863; Edward Goodlin, Fifty-second, died 1863." An appropriate military device is carved in high relief on the western face of the shaft, and the monument is a striking object tothose descending or ascending the valley.
In Section 33 are the remains of a prehistoric mound which may have been a fortification. It is circular with a radius of 250 feet which would give a circumference of about 1,700 feet. It is located on a bluff, which on the northwest side is about 200 feet high and almost perpendicular. On the southwest the "fortification" is about 100 feet high, sloping gradually to the creek. The ditch when first discovered by the whites was about four feet deep, and had large trees growing in it. The northwestern portion of the enclosure had apparently been washed away by the creek. This is the most extensive relic of the kind discovered in Jefferson County.
The early products of the township, flour, whiskey and salt, were hauled to the mouth of Yellow Creek and thence carried by flatboat to down-river points. When the Ohio Canal was opened wheat was hauled across the country to Massillon and Bolivar, but pork soon became the leading product of the section still known as Bacon Ridge, because it was cheaper to turn the grain into hogs and sell the pork rather than cart it fifty or sixty miles in order to secure water transportation. While the Ohio canal system was of immense benefit in developing the sections of the state through which it passed it was of very little use to Jefferson County, which received practically no return for the many thousands of dollars of taxes paid by her citizens to build up rival communities. Pork was hauled to Pittsburgh and Baltimore in six horse wagons, and the teamster's office was an important one. At home smoked ham brought six cents a pound, butter five and six cents, eggs two cents a dozen, and people made their own clothing. As to the morality of that region the late Isaac Shane writes: "The morals of our neighborhood were fairly good. Why my father (James Shane) had many criminal cases before him, the offenders came mostly from the Yellow Creek settlements. William Johnston, a law student in Steubenville and afterwards a judge in Cincinnati, started, as I suppose on bacon Ridge, the first temperance society in the county, the members signing a very strict pledge. This was in 1833."
Schools and Churches.
The first school house in the township was built about 1814 and was located about half a mile southeast of Stephen Coe's mill near Mooretown. James Ewing was the first teacher with a three month's term. Others were not long following and concerning these Mr. Shane writes: "The early schools were taught on subscription. They were no school huses (this as we have seen was not always the case). A teacher would get the use of some cabin or outhouse, or a farmer's kitchen in which to hold his school. He would seat it in a very primitive way, but it served his purpose; the children learned to read, write and cypher, and all were pleased. The teachers were persons of very common scholarship. The first I call to mine were Mr. Dixon, Thomas Riley and Mr. Baker; next came Henry Crabbs and Samuel McCutcheon. The schools were held sometimes one month, sometimes three, according to the money raised. The schools were kept in winter, but seldom in summer; nor were they kept every winter. The predominating religious influence being Presbyterian, the parents were encouraged by the ministers to educate their children. About 1820, under a then new law, townships were districted and school houses built; but still the distilleries outnumbered the school houses four to one. The first school house in our neighborhood (Bacon Ridge) was built on lands now owned by John Lysle, and then a marked improvement was noticed both in schools and teachers. Samuel McCutcheon and Henry Crabbs continued to wield the birch and after them came Peter Eckley, uncle of Hon. E. R. Eckley, of Carrollton, Joseph Shane (uncle of Isaac), and James Clendenning; and in 1837 the first female teacher came among us--a Miss Hartshorn."
Had the early schools of Ross Township produced no other visible fruit than Hon. Wm. Johnston, whose career is related in Chapter XX., they would have more than justified the expectations of their founders, in that it was mainly through his efforts that Ohio secured her first common school law. But they have kept up with the times and the township has eight school buildings, an average of one for each two and a half square miles, located as follows: Section 5, Lewis; 7, Montgomery; 8 and 16, McLean; 16, Sutton; 19, McIntire; 2, Smythe; 28, Moore.
Rev. George Scott organized a Presbyterian Society about 1804, which had a meeting house about the center of Section 25, which was called Richmond Church, although it was five miles from the present town of Richmond. The original members were Arthur Latimer, John P. McMillen, Stephen Coe, Thomas Bay, Calvin Moorehead, Aaron Allen and Andrew Dixon. Wm. McMillen was the first pastor and served two years. The first place of worship was the usual primitive log structure, small in size and poor in accommodations, but the congregation growing, in 1820 a brick building 30x50 was erected, which stood several years, when it was decided to divide the congregation on account of it covering too much territory. There being other churches in the neighborhood it was decided to move a couple of miles eastward in the northwest quarter of Section 13, and here on what was known as Bacon Ridge a new frame structure 33x44 feet was erected, and the old building torn down. The records previous to 1840 are lost, but Thomas Hunt was pastor for seven years, succeeded by James Robinson, a classmate of Dr. Chalmers. J. R. Dundas served from 1840 to 1844, succeeded by Cyrus Riggs, Lafferty Geier, for seven years, and John S. Marquis, who resigned on account of ill health in 1865. William Wycoff served from June, 1866, to October 19, 1873, and was succeeded by W. M. Eaton until October 1868, since when the congregation has depended on supplies from Richmond.
Rev. E. N. Scroggs, of the Associate Pressbyterian, organized a congregation on Yellow Creek in 1814, which subsequently became the Yellow Creek United Presbyterian Church. Rev. John Walker and Dr. Ramsay were among the early ministers. The first preaching was at the house of Thomas George (afterwards noted as an underground railway station), then in a tent, and in 1828 a brick hose of worship (30x40 feet) was erected, which was afterwards lengthened twenty feet. In 1858 a frame building 40x60 was erected, which is still in use. Among the first members were: Henry Crabbs (Krebs) and wife, Anna, Hamilton Walker and wife, Mary, William Kelly and wife, Christine, Nathan Barr and wife, Margaret, Samuel Dorrance and wife, Mary, John Jordan and wife, Mary Ann, Thomas George and wife, Jane, John Kean and wife, Mary, and Sarah Story. Thomas George and Henry Crabbs were ruling elders. Rev. John Donaldson succeeded Dr. Ramsey for twelve years; James Patterson, eighteen years; John Easton, one year; T. Simpson, December 25, 1856, to September 12, 1861; James Golden, April 4, 1863, to April, 1869; H. Y. Leeper, January, 1870 to July 8, 1902; W. C. Work, supply one year; J. Walter Liggitt, 1904-08.
The Methodists as an organized body began comparatively late in this township, but for quite a number of years preaching services were held at the home of Richard Jackman (maternal grandfather of Richard Henry Gregg of the Steubenville Bar), on Bacon Ridge. Alexander Johnston (father of Judge William Johnston), who came from Pennsylvania to Ohio about 1800, was a Methodist Episcopal minister, following farming during the week days and preaching on Sundays. He became quite wealthy and owned a large tract of land in the township, including the farms later owned by John Lysle and Matthew Stevenson. Alexander Johnson's son, Alexander, was also a Methodist Episcopal minister; a man of wonderful talent, he having written a commentary on the Bible, declared by those who read the manuscript (it was not yet published) to have been a scholarly effort. The first organization was in Section 8 in 1834 called Mt. Zion, by Rev. Edward Taylor. The class was composed of Thomas Taylor, leader; James Taylor and wife, Hettie, Henry Gregg and wife, Susannah, Benjamin Elliott and wife, Nancy, and Jane Jackman. A frame church was built in 1837, which was burned twenty years later and immediately rebuilt, 32x44 feet in size. It is a part of Richmond circuit.
Pine Grove Church in Section 5 was begun by the preaching of Rev. Samuel Wharton in an old log house in 1838, and a few months after a class was formed by Rev. Thomas Thompson, composed of fourteen persons, including Samuel N. Herron, leader; Andrew Saltsman and wife, Catherine, Solomon Hartman and wife, Jane Saltsman, Mrs. Rebecca Schwinehart and daughter, Julia Ann, Matthew H. Roach and wife, Elizabeth. In 1841 under the auspices of Revs. John Murray and George McCluskey a brick structure replaced the old log house, and is still in use, being on Hammondsville circuit.
Rev. J. Williams organized a classs at Mooretown in 1847, composed of Mordecai Moore, leader; Thomas Smith and wife, Eleanor, Wilson Anderson and wife, Rebecca, Dr. McDowell and wife, Mary James Knox and wife, Ann, Mrs. Elizabeth Moore. A frame house, 30x41, was erected in 1851 and is still in use. It is part of Bergholz circuit.
In 1830 Bethel Lutheran Church was organized in Section 3 on the east side of the township and a brick building erected. It was replaced by a frame in 1872, which was dedicated the same year by Drs. Sparks and Passavant of Pittsburgh. While the congregation has always been small, services have been maintained with more or less regularity by supplies. (pages 530-535)
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