Brief History of Clay Twp.
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The neighborhood of the village of St. Johns was settled immediately after the cessation of the Indian lands in 1832. This village was founded by Daniel Bitler and John Rogers, in April, 1835, and named St. Johns, as a compromise between the founders. Daniel Bitler opened a store and blacksmith shop in 1834, while the site was still known as the Indian Village, "Blackhoof," bearing its name in honor of a noted chief of the Shawnee nation. His name is perpetuated by the small stream, Blackhoof Creek, which flows through and about the village. The first dwelling was erected by Ed. Williams, although at the same time many Indian huts remained, some of which were occupied by the early whites. Chief Blackhoof's lodge, in St. Johns, was a log structure about 18 x 20 feet, one and half stories high, covered with clapboards, the chimney being of sticks, and the floor of puncheons. It was occupied by John Corder.
By 1834 the settlement had so increased that Clay township was organized, and the first election held at the home of Samuel Bechdolt, Dec. 27, 1834, when eleven votes were cast. Jas. H. Coleman, Thos. Beer, and John Rogers served as judges, and Richard Henry and Joel Bayliff as clerks. The following persons were elcted to the respective offices: Trustees, John Rogers, David Vonblaricom, Thomas Beer. Clerk, Richard Henry. Treasurer, Joel Bayliff. Constable, Thomas Beer. Fence Viewers, Jas. H. Coleman, Thomas Reed, Thomas Beer. Overseers of the Poor, William Copeland and Samuel Bechdolt. Richard Henry was sworn into office by John Morris, justice of the peace of Union township. The voters of this election were Richard Henry, Joel Bayliff, David Vonblaricom, John Rogers, Wm. Hinton, Thomas Beer, Thomas Reed, Byrd Richardson, James H. Coleman, Wm. Copeland and Samuel Bechdolt. John Corder and James H. Coleman were the pioneer teachers of the township. The first settlement was thus made at and about St. Johns, the old Indian Blackhoof Village.
The early inhabitants were English and German; the north and wast parts were settled chiefly by immigrants from Pennsylvania, Virginia and other eastern states, while the southwestern part was settled by Germans. The settlers while wholly occupied with clearing and draining the land, established nine schools by 1880 and several churches. The pioneer Methodist Church of St. Johns was organized at the house of Charles Lusk, leader of the class, with 12 members in 1833. Their church became part of a circuit in a line of churches which extended into Allen County, and served by Rev. J. B. Finley, John Alexander, and by 1835 by Revs. David Burns and Wesley J. Wells. In 1880 a society of Protestant Methodists worshipped in a substantial brick building in the eastern part of the township, while the German Methodists conducted services in a sturdy frame structure in the southwest portion. The Christians have an old organization in St. Johns, which is among the very first in the territory.
In 1880, the business interests were represented by: Wm. Bitler, proprietor of Bitler House and store; Wm. Giberson, proprietor of Giberson House and store; Gnagi Bro's, general merchandise and cooperage; Wm. Perkins, dealer in hats, caps, boots and shoes; Thos. Emerson, druggist; Wm. Bush, wagon manufactory; and Wm. Herring proprietor steam saw and grist mill. There were two resident physicians: Drs. Van Trump and J.M. Shaw.
Early Settlers of Clay Twp.
The following list is of the first settlers in Clay Township. Other lists will soon be online listing first settlers for each township. For the time being, we will limit the inclusion of settlers up until about the year 1850. Once we have finished this task, we may extend the time-span. If your ancestor doesn't appear here, check the county and other township lists. If you have information about the settlement of your ancestor, please submit it for inclusion on these lists. Your submission must include reference to a source document (i.e. deed, Bible record, legal document).
Key to Source Abbreviations:
ATL80 = 1880 Atlas of Auglaize County, compiled by H.G. Howland, published 1880 by Robert Sutton
AUH = History of Auglaize County
C = Census
D = Deed Volume/Page Number
|Bayliff, Joel||Clay||ATL80, p. 34||Clerk in 1st Election, 1st Twp. Treasurer|
|Bechdolt, Peter||Clay||1834||ATL80, p. 34|
|Bechdolt, Samuel||Clay||1834||ATL80, p. 34||1st Election held at his home, 1st Overseer of the Poor|
|Beer, Thomas||Clay||ATL80, p. 34||Judge in 1st Election, 1st Twp. Trustee, Constable & Fence Viewer|
|Bennett, Peter||Clay||ATL80, p. 34|
|Bitler, Daniel||Clay||1834||ATL80, p. 34||Secured land once owned by Chief Wayweleapy|
|Bitler, Henry||Clay||ATL80, p. 34|
|Bitler, Samuel||Clay||ATL80, p. 34|
|Bitler, William||Reading & Schuylkill Co. PA, Franklin Co., OH||Clay||1834||ATL80, p. 34||b. 22 Feb 1807, md. Rebecca Snyder 27 Feb 1828 in Schuylkill, ch: Christian, Arthur, Samuel, Mary, Hannah, Lucy A., Almira, Elizabeth, Mehala; md. Rosa Bechdolt 09 Feb 1865, ch: Aurora Belle, Dora May, step-son E. W. Parker.|
|Bush, Wm.||Clay||ATL80, p. 34|
|Carey, John||ATL80, p. 34|
|Coleman, James H.||Kentucky, Warren & Shelby Co., OH||Clay||1832-33||ATL80, p. 34||b. 14 Jan 1796, Judge in 1st Election, 1st Twp. J.P., Fence Viewer, 1st Pioneer Teacher|
|Coleman, S. S.||Shelby Co., OH||1834||ATL80, p. 34||b. 01 Apr 1823, md. 21 Dec 1844 Nancy A. Copeland, 5 ch., md. 2nd 1863 Elizabeth Hanson of Ross Co.|
|Copeland, Amos||Clay||ATL80, p. 34|
|Copeland, William||Clay||ATL80, p. 34||1st Overseer of Poor|
|Corder, John||Clay||1832-33||ATL80, p. 34||1st Pioneer Teacher|
|Elliot, Hugh||Washington Co., PA, Knox Co., OH||Union, Clay||1838||ATL80, p. 34||b. 17 Nov 1812|
|Emerick, Geo.||Clay||ATL80, p. 34|
|Henry, Richard||Clay||1832-33||ATL80, p. 34||Clerk in 1st Election, 1st. Twp. Clerk|
|Hinton, William||Clay||ATL80, p. 34||Voted 1st Election|
|Hodges, John||Clay||ATL80, p. 34|
|Lusk, Chas.||Virginia||Clay||1832-33||ATL80, p. 34||1st meetings of the Meth. Church held at his home, wife, Anna, son William|
|Lusk, William||Virginia||Clay||1835||ATL80, p. 34||b. 14 Jul 1817, lvd. Missouri 1839-1845, ord. Min. M.Ch. 1859|
|Martin, Asa||Clinton Co., OH||Clay||1836||ATL80, p. 34||b. 15 Jan 1822, md. 1844 Hannah Coleman, 15 children|
|Martin, Chas.||Clay||ATL80, p. 34|
|Moore, Robert||Champaign & Union Co., OH||Clay||02 Oct 1849||ATL80, p. 34||b. 11 Mar 1820, md. 1842 in Union Co. to Mary M. Caslte, Ch.: Isabella E., Mary E., Malinda F., William J., Louisa J., Emeline C., Lydia A., John D., James W., Millie A., Maria A., Peter Lincoln|
|Morris, John||Clay||1832-33||ATL80, p. 34|
|Perkins, Andrew||Clay||1832-33||ATL80, p. 34|
|Princehouse, Peter||Clay||1832-33||ATL80, p. 34|
|Reed, Thomas||Clay||ATL80, p. 34||1st Twp. Fence Viewer|
|Richardson, Byrd||Clay||ATL80, p. 34||Voted 1st Election|
|Richardson, Wm.||Clay||1832-33||ATL80, p. 34|
|Rogers, John||Orange Co., NY, Sussex Co., NJ, Licking & Richland Co. OH||Clay||1832-33||ATL80, p. 34||b. 20 Oct 1800, Judge in 1st Election, 1st Twp. Trustee, md. Mary Hadley of Mt. Vernon, md. 1851 Nancy A. Bechdolt, nee Coleman, 7 ch. total, d. 30 Apr 1880|
|Runyun, Benj.||Clay||1832-33||ATL80, p. 34|
|Snyder, Jacob||Clay||ATL80, p. 34|
|Vonblaricom, David||Clay||ATL80, p. 34||1st Twp. Trustee|
|Williams, E.||Clay||1832-33||ATL80, p. 34|
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