Mr. Caldwell in his history has the following paragraph: "Brush Creek Township at this time (1879) contains neither a lawyer, doctor, preacher nor saloon. It has one small village of eighty inhabitants with a postoffice, a store, a blacksmith shop and a shoemaker shop. It contains within its limits four churches." This description applies just as well today, except that rural delivery has displaced the postoffice.
When Columbiana County was formed from Jefferson on March 25, 1803, most of what is now Brush Creek Township was within the limits of the new county, but in 1832 the legislature changed the line, throwing three tiers of sections back into Jefferson. The following March the county commissioneers detached a tier of sections from the north side of Ross and attached it to the territory acquired from Columbiana, and organized it into a township, calling it Brush Creek, after the stream flowing through it. Thus it contains twenty-four sections or about that number of square miles. At one time wheat raising was a considerable farming industry, but in later years grazing and stock raising are in the lead. Coal abounds as in the adjoining townships. As stated, there is but one village in the township, Monroeville, a small hamlet laid out by Abraham Croston in 1836 and named after President Monroe.The postoffice was called Croston, there being another Monroeville in the state.
William B. Derrick has preserved some reminiscenses of the early settlers, among them being Martin Adams, who bought his farm from the government in 1805, moving there on March 25, 1806, and remaining there until his death. He was a justice of the peace, donated the land for Chestnut Grove Church and cemetery, ran a mill and distillery, and, according to his biographer, accumulated a large fortune, which was scattered at his death among impatient and dissatisfied legatees. Thomas Gillingham was agent for Nathan Harper, Joseph Potts & Company, a company of Quaker salt boilers from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Henry Emmons had the property since known as Collinswood. Matthew Russell, a bachelor, willed a large sum to the state for the benefit of the insane, which was materially reduced by litigation on the part of heirs. Thomas Adams came about 1810 and settled on Section 27, since owned by his son, John. Jacob Ritter settled in 1810 on what was afterwards the McIntosh place. Then there were William Kerr, Samuel Clark, Elisha Brooks, Cyrus Moore (soldier of 1812), Kenneth McLennan, John C. McIntosh and others. According to Mr. Derrick, Joshua Downard and John Hutton discovered salt water in the creek near the mouth of Salt Works Run, where Irondale is now situated. It was while they were hunting deer near the close of the eighteenth century. Downard came to Brush Creek in 1784, and his son Joseph was born on the north fork of Yellow Creek in 1796. It will be remembered that Salt Run flows through Brush Creek Township and empties into Yellow Creek at Irondale in Saline Township.
Schools and Churches.
Like Ross, the pioneer schools of Brush Creek Township produced at least one character which rescued them from obscurity, Rev. Alexander Clark, who became a prominent minister in the M. P. Church, as well as a writer and educator of wide reputation. He started the "School Day Visitor," the first child's paper published in the country, which afterwards grew into the St. Nicholas Magazine and at his death was editor of the Methodist Recorder, the organ of his religious denomination, published at Pittsburgh. The first school house in the township was on the farm owned by Moses Marshall and afterwards by Elias Cope about twenty rods east of the present site of Chestnut Grove Church in Section 2. It was built of logs in 1814, and the teacher was Samuel Clark, father of the Rev. Dr. Clark mentioned above. He was engaged at $10 a month for four months by Matthew Russell and Moses Marshall, and boarded free with the latter. Some of the attending pupils lived fully three miles away. Of course in those days there was no such thing as teachers' examinations, and little discrimination in their employment. The patrons of the school took what they could get and at the least price, generally without regard to quality. However,, the results were better than might have been anticipated. Close by this school house were the mill and distillery of Martin Adams, the latter abandoned a few years later for want of patronage. In 1830 the school district was regularly organized, consisting of Sections 1, 2, 3, 7,8, 9, 13, 14, 15, giving a district of nine square miles. The first election for school officers was held at the house of Martin Adams on September 8, choosing Samuel Clark as clerk, John Adams, William Kerr and Elisha Brooks, directors; Martin Adams, treasurer. At this meeting the building of a new house was ordered, to be a hewn log building, shingle roof, stone chimney, a door and windows. The size was to be 20x20. Application was made to the auditor of Columbiana County for an abstract of the taxable property of the district, and a levy of ten mills on the dollar was made, which aggregated a total of $50. The building was erected the same fall under the direction of James Clark and Charles Marshall, on a tract of land granted by John Adams. The neighbors joined in the "raising," and the house was built in one day at a cash outlay of $32. The fact that the whisky of the forefathers lent inspiration to all these gatherings is generally recognized, and in this case it is related that the next morning after the raising Clark went to the newly erected building to finish p the work, and arriving before his partner, Marshall concluded to "take a nap" I the adjoining woods. Marshall arrived shortly after, and not finding Clark, he also concluded to "take a nap" and fell asleep in the woods. Clark finally awoke, and not seeing Marshall went to his residence to ascertain the cause of his absence. In the meantime Marshall awoke and went to Clark's to find out why he was missing. When they found each other is not recorded.
William Kerr was the first teacher and school was held with more or less regularity until 1852, when Samuel Clark was hired as teacher at $18 per month. When Christmas came he refused to give the customary treat, which the scholars demanded and quit the school in disgust. His son, Alexander, who had received his early education here, was employed to finish out the term, and thus the place became immortalized in his book, "The Old Log School House."
Among the sketches in Mr. Clark's book the following is worthy of preservation:
"A long time ago, before any of the pioneers had permanently settled in the valley of Yellow Creek, it was common for Virginians to make excursions over these hills, bringing their horses with them from the settlements, and hobbling them in the wild meadows to graze while they wandered off in search of game, in which the woods abounded. In such exploits it was usual to sleep on the grass with the far-off sky as the only shelter and the distant howling of the wolves the only lullaby. About this time salt springs were discovered on the creek, and crude furnaces were built for 'boiling salt.' The persons who first engaged in this business were a daring, reckless class of men, not particular regardful of their appearance or habits. Commonly two or three would join fortunes, erect a rough cabin, and build a furnace near a saline spring, there to spend weeks and months boiling salt in the wilderness.
"One of these establishments was owned and operated by a rough, mischievous fellow by the name of Miller, who was always ready for a joke, no matter how severe or at whose expense. While Miller and his two associates in the enterprise were seated around the great roaring furnace one morning, wishing for some kind of amusement, a stranger, lean and lank, having every symptom of a genuine Vermonter, approached on horseback, and asked permission to leave his pack-saddle and other traveling appendages in their care, while he should spend the day in hunting. The favor being cheerfully granted, he dismounted, left his saddle, and wandered off in quest of deer. As soon as the newcomer was fairly to of sight, Miller, who looked upon him as an intruder, determined to annoy him, and as a convenient method of testing the calibre [sic] of the stranger, he threw his pack-saddle into the furnace, where it was soon reduced to ashes. Toward evening the hunter returned, and on very deliberately making inquiry for his saddle, was told the less he said about that the better otherwise he might share the same fate. The remark was accompanied by a significant look toward the fire, which instantly suggested to the indignant stranger the where abouts of his saddle. However, he said nothing, and was soon on his homeward way. In a few days he returned once more, seeming in a fine humor, and brought a new pack-saddle which he left in Miller's care, as before, charging him emphatically not to burn that one or else there would be a noise about it. Of course the warning not to touch the saddle was more than Miller was willing to bear, and he resolved to repeat the experiment as soon as the stranger should start on his day's hunt. No sooner had he turned his back upon the furnace than Miller called after him, 'Look-a-here, Mister, I'll show you whos a goin' to do the order'in' round here.' And into the fire went the saddle with a will. But in a moment the huge kettles, the walls of the furnace and everything thereunto pertaining were scattered in one universal wreck, the hot fluid sprinkling freely over the unsuspecting heads of the salt boilers, and the clouds of hissing steam completely blinding them for awhile, thus affording the revengeful stranger opportunity to make good his escape, which he did without the formality of bidding his victims good bye. The truth flashed upon Miller's mind about as soon as the hot ashes flashed into his face--the pads of the new pack-saddle had been stuffed with gunpowder."
The school building referred to was occasionally used for preaching, and about 1845 the first temperance meeting held in the township was conducted here, starting the reformation which put the local distilleries out of business. The old building stood for forty-four years, being torn down in 1874 and replaced by a new frame building, after an interesting reunion of teachers, friends and pupils on the old grounds. Some relics have been made from the logs and preserved as mementoes [sic]. The township is well supplied with schools at present, there being five in operation, there being two extra lots, with locations in Sections 1 (Downard), 8 (Beard), 21 (Thompson, "Old Log"), 27 (Monroeville), 32 (Brush Creek), 24 (Workman), 15 (Salt Run).
Chestnut Grove M. E. Church traces its origin to points outside the limits of the township. The meetings at the Hickman house near the mouth of Yellow Creek early in the Nineteenth century, where Rev. William tipton preached in 1822. Were the beginning not only of Chestnut Grove, but also of the societies at Irondale and Highland Town in Columbiana County. Meetings were also held at the house of Theophilus Kirk, near where Hammondsville now is. The first class was composed of Susan Kirk, Susan Cox. Mary Cox, Amy Drey, David Walter, Mary Walter, James Ewing, Sarah Ewing. The early ministers were William Tipton, John E. McGraw, John R. Shearer. About 1838 Rev. J. M. Bray began preaching at the Clark "old log school house," now Thompsons's In the meantime Martin Adams, whose housekeeper was Mrs. Agnes Hartley, of the Lutheran faith, in accordance with her wishes, gave a tract of land to that denomination, to be the property of the First Lutheran Church, of Brush Creek Township, stipulating in the deed that when not used by the Lutherans it was to be free to the Presbyterians, and when they did not need it, to the Methodist. A stone building was started in 1838, just about the time that Rev. Bray began preaching at the log school house, the erection of a stone building was begun, the neighbors without regard to creed contributing to the work. When the walls were half up John Calder, the mason, died, and nothing more was done until next year when the walls were completed and the building roofed. At this time Mrs. Hartley died, and nothing further was done until 1847, when the house was completed and occupied by the Methodists. There never was but one Lutheran sermon preached in it. This building was used until 1898, when, becoming too small and unsafe, a new frame structure was erected close by at a cost of $2,500. Rev. Sheridan Baker preached the first sermon on the occupation of the stone church in the fall of 1847, and the next year Rev. Samuel Longdon and A. H. Thomas were appointed by conference, the charge then being in Somerset circuit. John E. McGraw, John R. Shearer, Harry McAbee, John Crawford and William Tipton were among the early preachers, and the first class leaders were Samuel Robinson and Joshua Ewing. The members of the first class were Hannah Robinson, Sally Ewing, Jane Ewing, Myron and Ann VanDusen, Marry Gillingham, Elizabeth and Leah Beard. Since 1870 the church has been served from Irondale.
Grant Hill United Presbyterian Church was organized in 1866 and a comfortable frame house built about a mile west of the Thompson school house. The original members were William M. Martin, Robert B. Sharp and John R. McCullough, elders; Laughlin Dallas, Sr., and Jr., Barbara, Margaret and Maggie Dallas, John and Mrs. Sharp, William Rose, Sr., and Jr., Margaret, Lizzie, Alexander and Martha Rose, Robert V., Belle and Isabel Martin, Hugh M. and Maria McIntosh, William, Mary M., Joseph, Eliza and John S. Russell, Josiah and Jane Adams, Jane Johnson, John and Nancy McCoy, Lizzie Randolph, Albert G. and Susan Maple, Annie Cameron. Rev. S. W. Clark preached the first sermon and held communion in October, 1866, in the uncompleted building. There was preaching by supplies until February 9, 1870, when Rev. H. Y. Leeper took charge. The installation sermon was by Dr. T. R. Simpson, address to pastor by Rev. J. H. Leeper, and to the people by Rev. Erskine. Mr. Leeper continued in charge until 1902, since which the congregation has been served from Yellow Creek and Irondale.
The Presbyterian Church of Monroeville was organized in 1835. In June of that year the Presbytery of Beaver met at New Lisbon, Ohio, and Rev. Thomas E. Hughes was commissioned to hold a meeting in Monroeville for this purpose. This meeting was held on July 4, and Rev. Mr. Hughes in company with Richard Gilson, elder from Bethel Church, were present. After appropriate religious exercises Mr. Hughes gave a narrative of the action of the Presbytery, and being chosen moderator, it was resolved to elect two elders, Joseph Holsack and Samuel Clark. The following day being Sunday the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered, and Alexander, infant son of Samuel and Christina Clark, was the first baptized in this congregation. The first elders were ordained on September 24. A small church was soon erected,, which was replaced by the present structure which was dedicated free of debt on April 23, 1882, Rev. S. M. Davis preaching the sermon.
There is also a Disciple Church in the same neighborhood, known as Berea, which is without a pastor. There are three cemeteries in the township. (pages 535-539)
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Reproduced in 1992 by Closson Press, Apollo, PA under sponsorship of the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum and Genealogical Library, Steubenville, Ohio. Transcribed by Janice G. Donley, 1999.
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