Auglaize County, Ohio

History and Genealogy

History of Auglaize County

Wayne Township

Wayne township was organized in 1834, and is the northeast township in the county. Its area is twenty-seven square miles, being four and a half miles north and south, and six miles east and west. It was named in honor of Anthony Wayne. The first election was held at the house of Samuel Mocraft in 1834. There were thirteen votes cast at this election. The next election was held at the house of Wm. Black. James Mahan was the first justice of the peace. Joseph Dawson, Allen Gilmore, and Richard Berry were the first trustees.

The surface of the township is undulating, the soil rich, and well adapted to the raising of wheat, corn, and grass. In the southeast part of this township the Wallace fork of the Scioto rises. Willow branch rises in the centre of the township, and empties into the Muchanippe in Goshen township. Wrestle Creek, one of the branches of the Auglaize River, also heads in this township, and runs east. The township is well watered. The devil's half acre, as it used to be termed, is in this part of the township, and just north of it, on section two, is the highest land in the State, and is the dividing ridge between the waters of the Auglaize and Scioto Rivers. The East prairie is divided between this and Goshen township. In early times it afforded a good deal of feed for stock, and early pasture, as the grass would come earlier in the spring than in the timber. It has cost a great deal to bring it into cultivation. There are miles of ditches in it, cut from ten to thirteen feet wide and from four to seven feet deep. It is now nearly all cultivated, and thousands of bushels of corn and potatoes are raised upon it annually.

In the fall of 1830, or spring of 1831, the first settlers, William Hiett and John Hurley, arrived, and built cabins on the north side of the prairie. From that time until 1834 the following persons arrived: Jacob Williams, Gilbert Hurley, Thomas McCall, Daniel Ellsworth, H. W. Bowdle, James Mahan, Sr., James Mahan, Jr., Joseph Dawson, Isaac Dawson, Samuel Lowman, Samuel Mocraft, Henry Whetstone, Eli E. Carson, Simon Mocraft, Wm. Cox, Richard Berry, Moses Ross, Aaron Oram, Wm. Kent, Alex. Kent, and during the next year or two, Lee Turner, Simon Maxon, Benj. Madden, J. C. Berry, Harris Wells, Samuel Cavender, and Lyman Pratt, most of whom brought their families and scattered over about fifteen miles of territory. In the fall of 1836 they built the first school-house of logs, cabin style. They could get no glass for the windows, so they used paper. Strips of wood were nailed across the windows, the paper pasted on, and oiled with coon's oil, which rendered the paper semi-transparent. The next trouble was to keep the birds from cutting the paper. The writing desks were made of puncheons, about ten feet long, and laid upon pins in the wall. There were two such desks. The seats were saplings, split in two, about ten feet long, and legs put in the round side with the flat side up. Such was the school-house in which many of the children of the early settlers received all their education. Asa R. Mahan taught the first school in the winter of 1836 and 1837. He was employed for three months at ten dollars per month. A. D. Berry taught in 1837 and 1838. Wm. Gilmer in 1838 and 1839.

Wayne township has some excellent improvements. The farms are generally small, from forty to one hundred and sixty acres, with good buildings. The land lies well for drainage, fall enough can be secured to drain the deepest ponds. There is no waste land in the township. The land that was thought to be too low and wet for anything but grass is now cultivated, and produces good crops of all kinds of grain. F. A. Berry, the son of Richard Berry, who settled in 1834, says the first settlers suffered many privations. Provisions for the families and grain for the stock had to be brought from Logan and Champaign Counties, which made toilsome trips, as the roads were bad. The Bellefontaine and Lima road was not cleared all the way, and there was no bridge between the north fork of the Miami River and Lima. After there was grain enough raised for bread they had to go to Cherokee to mill, a distance of fifteen miles, which would require two or three days. After they succeeded in raising wheat for sale, it had to be hauled to Portland, now Sandusky City, or Lower Sandusky, now Fremont. It took about eight days to make the trip, and wheat sold for fifty to sixty cents a bushel. It was the only way they had to get money to pay their taxes, and get coffee, salt, and other necessaries for their families. Sugar was made at home. Deer and coons were plenty, and were the principal meats of the early settlers, as wild turkeys were scarce. The first settlers had a great deal of trouble with their stock, there being no pasture for them, except the wild woods, which was common to all.

Waynesfield, situated in the southwest part of the township, was laid out by B. G. Atkinson, who opened the first store; the first physician was Henry Leaman. It has a good trade, being surrounded by a rich agricultural country, it now has three stores, one hotel, two churches, two physicians, and a steam grist and saw mill.

From "History of Auglaize County, Ohio, with the Indian History of Wapakoneta, and the First Settlement of the County", Robert Sutton, Publishers, Wapakoneta, 1880