HISTORY OF FAIRFIELD COUNTY
LIBERTY lies between Violet and Walnut, in the northern tier of townships. It was so named at the request of the first settlers who were from Switzerland. They had emigrated from a land where their liberties had been much restricted, and they desired to perpetuate the change to freedom, hence the name of Liberty. The surface of the township is generally flat, being slightly undulating near the villages of Basil and Baltimore. When first settled, it was densely timbered with maple, beech, elm, hickory and other varieties of hard wood, but the large amounts destroyed in clearing the land, and used for fuel, building and fencing, has denuded the forests to such an extent, that but little timber of value remains. Walnut Creek, the principal stream of water, passes across the southern part of the township in a meandering course. Poplar Creek, its principal tributary, rises in the northwestern part of the township. Little Paw Paw Creek heads in the northeastern part of Walnut, and flows in a southerly direction into the Walnut. The Ohio Canal crosses the southwestern part of Liberty. A portion of the Refugee tract of land is located in the northern part of the township. Various bands of Delaware, Wyandotte and other tribes of Indians, wandered about this and other townships, for several years after the first white settlements commenced. It was a common occurrence for the men and boys of both races to engage in wrestling, jumping and foot races. The site of the present village of Basil is said to have had several of the meeting places, where the whites and Indians would frequently engage in these amusements. The Indians had cleared tracts of land and planted some corn, which with their game enabled them to obtain quite a comfortable subsistence. They also made considerable quantities of maple sugar during the spring season. They frequently exchanged their skins and furs with the whites, for flour, salt, lead, powder and other commodities. They were particularly desirous of exchanging their peltry for whisky, of which they were very fond. During the war of 1812 the settlers were often alarmed by reports of hostile Indians coming into the township. There was a fort at the house of Judge Burtons, in Pleasant township, to which the women and children were taken, when an alarm was given. The fighting men of the settlements would rendezvous at Lancaster, until after the scare had subsided. The first settlers of Liberty township were emigrants from Switzerland
and Pennsylvania. It cannot now be ascertained who was the very first settler of the township. Christisn Gundy and family came from Lancaster county, Pennsyl- vania, in 1809, settling in the southern part of Liberty, on Walnut Creek. He erected a small log cabin, having a blanket for a door. His descendants still reside here. David Brumback came to Liberty about 1803, locating in the southeastern part of the township. Among the early Swiss settlers were Nicholas Bader, Joseph Alt and Jacob Showley, who settled in Liberty, prior to 1806. They transferred their household goods from Pittsburg in flat boats, down the Ohio River, to the mouth of the Hocking, at which place they put them into canoes and rowed them to the Falls of Hocking, near the present village of Logan, and from there conveyed them through a dense wilderness, to their future homes in Liberty. Francis Bibler came from Virginia in 1805. He located in the southwestern part of the township. He erected a cabin, which stood near the residence of John Chapman, of Basil. For several weeks after first settling here, the family subsisted entirely on wild game, not having any bread in the house. The nearest flouring mill was at Chillicothe, to which place the settlers would go for their flour and meal. Rev. Henry Leonard, who was born in 1812, and still resides in the township, furnishes the following list of families, who resided in Liberty township prior to the war of 1811, viz.: the Eversoles, Cooks, Campbells, Zirkles, Hiesers, Alts, Heistands, Apt, Finkbone, Kemerer, Paff, Bolenbaughs, Rouch, Newell, Blauser, Browns, Shriners, Knepper, Moreheads, Olingers, Wrights, Tusing, Growilers, McCalla, Switzer, Amspach, Heyle, Farmers, Leonards, Sann, Rouch, Zirkles, Sagers, Robert Wilson, Nicholas Bader, Christian Gundy and several other families. Many of the descendants of these first settlers are still residing here. The first cabins of the pioneers have long since disappeared, and have been superseded by substantial brick and frame structures. Prior to the construction of the Ohio Canal, prices for all kinds of produce were very low. At one time Mr. Bibler, of Liberty, went to Lancaster to sell some wheat. One of the merchants said to him, "I cannot use the wheat now for any purpose, but if you wish to bring it and empty it in the street, I will give you twelve and one-half cents a bushel for it." Another of the old settlers drove a lot of hogs to Zanesville, with the expectation of receiving $1.50 per hundred for them. Mr. Buckingham, one of the early merchants of the city, refused to give him that price for his porkers, which so displeased the old settler, that he refused to sell them at all, and left them in the streets of the town, to take care of themselves. In a few weeks they all returned to the old place. Ginseng grew in large quantities in the woods, and the settlers depended upon the sale of this root to pay their taxes, as it brought a, fair price. Jacob Showley built the first grist mill in Liberty. It was in operation by horse power. One of the first roads in the township was the Black Lick. The
Refugee road, in the northern part of the township, was another of the first roads laid out. The Baptists were probably the religious pioneers of Liberty. The members held their meetings in private houses, until the erection of a church at Baltimore, in 1832. Rev. Martin Kauffman was one of the first ministers of this denomination to preach in the township. Rev. John Hite and Lewis Madden were early Baptist ministers. The Mt. Zion Reformed church is situated about two miles north- west of Basil. The society was organized in 1844. Among the early influential, working members of the society were Samuel Wilkins, Peter Weaver and Enoch Beighler. From a membership of ten or twelve in 1844, the church has increased to about one hundred and forty-five, in 1882. The same pastors that have had ministerial charge of the Basil Church, have officiated for this society. A Sunday school has existed in connection with this church, since about the time of its organization. The present superintendent is David W. Wilkins. Two of the early ministers of the Reformed Church, were the Rev. George Weise of Lancaster and Rev. Henry K. Zerbe. Rev. Frederick Shower, a minister of the Evangelical or Albright Church, frequently preached in this township. In 1830 a small church was erected on Poplar Creek. There are two villages in this township---Baltimore and Basil. Baltimore, the older and larger village, is situated in the southeast part of the township. It was laid out in 1824, by Mr. Henry Hildebrand. He first named it New Market, in honor of his native village, New Market, Virginia. Subsequently it was changed to Baltimore. It has at this date (July, 1882) a population of about six hundred, and is gradually increasing. For several years after the completion of the Ohio Canal, Baltimore was a place of considerable importance. Large quantities of wheat, corn and other produce were purchased by the business men of the village, and shipped via the canal to eastern markets. Wing and Atwood built the first grain warehouse. Amos Sweazy built another warehouse a short time afterwards. Wing, Ruffner & Coulson in 1835 built the first grist mill in the village. These warehouses and mills were located on the banks of the canal, and for many years the owners transacted a very flourishing business, but when the railroads became general, the business of the place sought localities favored by the railroad and the town was at a stand still for several years. The building of the Ohio Central Railroad and its location through the village has given an impetus to business, and it is slowly but surely increasing. At this time the village contains one hotel, two dry goods stores, two groceries, one general merchandise store, two warehouses, two flour mills, one planing mill, one undertaking establishment, one drug store, one harness shop, etc. At an early date in its history, the village sustained a flourishing newspaper, called the Baltimore Times. It originated about 1832 and existed for some three or four years. A. D. Rawlings was the publisher. Among the early physicians were Drs. S. S. Gohegan, William Quinn and Helmick. Miss Julietta Lampson and Lockwood McMullen
were of the first school teachers in the village. A serious accident occurred in 1835, which resulted in the death of three individuals. Services were being held in the Baptist church, a brick structure, when the gable end of the church, next to which the pulpit was located, suddenly fell in, killing the three referred to and wounding several others. The minister officiating made a narrow escape from death. In 1861 a fire occurred which destroyed the hotel and drug store, and three barns. The Methodist Episcopal Church of Baltimore was organized about 1829. Among the first members of this class were Lyman Terrell, Amos T. Swazy, William Taylor and wives, the Reeses and others. Revs. Zachariah Connell, Levi White and Samuel Hamilton were of the first Methodist ministers, who officiated for this society. A short time after the organization, a small brick building was built by the members, in which they held their meetings until about 1838, when the present frame church was constructed. The church is in a flourishing condition at this time and sustains a Sunday-school, which enjoys a good degree of prosperity. There is a cemetery in connection with this church which was laid out about the time the church was organized. The Baltimore Baptist Church was organized about 1832, at which date a neat substantial brick church was built. John Abram, Jacob Bibler, Joseph Bibler, Joseph Stouder and their wives were among the early members. For several years prior to the organization of the Baltimore church, the members held their meetings at various houses in the township. These meetings were frequently addressed by Elders John Hite, Martin Kauffman, Louis Madden and others. Rev. Louis Madden was the first pastor of this church and remained such many years. There has been no regular pastor for some years, and the membership is small at this date, 1882. There was a society of Presbyterians in the village several years since. A brick edifice was erected, which was subsequently sold to the village for a school house. The church never attained to much prosperity. There is a flourishing union school in the town. Professor J.J. Wagner with three assistants constituted the corps of teachers, employed during the last term. The school building, which is constructed of brick was built about 1857. Baltimore Lodge. No. 202, I. 0. 0. F., was instituted June 11th 1852. The charter members were: Casper Fiddler, A.L. Simmons, H. L. Nicely, William Potter, ]. Bartholomew, William J. Smart, J. Schlosser, James Pugh, Job McNamee, Thomas M. Watson, Jacob Ketner, John H. Weakly, Frederick Graff, William Paul and Elijah Warner. Whole number of members in July 1882, ninety-two. Liberty Encampment. No. 169, I. 0. 0. F., of Baltimore, was organized July 14th 1873. The charter members were: Jonas Meserly, J. J. Hausberger, A. L. Gearhart, Daniel Langle, V. H. Ginder, J. W. Whiteley, Samuel Rader, Daniel Olinger, W. P. Littlejohn, Josephus Norris, F. G. Littlejohn, W. H. Oliver, John Javoi, T. I. Arnold, Peter Roshon, J.W. Chapman, R. S. Broch, S. S. Weist, Frederick Born, William Cook. The lodge does not hold any regular meetings at this date. Baltimore Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was instituted
October 22, 1873. Harrison Applegate, William O. Myers, W. W. Luckey, J. H. Schaertzer, D. H. Sands, J. R. Brandt, William Cook, John Sanns, Samuel Fenstermacher, E. K. Grube, G. W. Watson, Thomas Smurr, James W. Buchanan, Daniel Albright, Lewis Shearer, were the charter members. There are now about sixty-five members at this date, July, 1882. The lodge erected a brick building in 1873, in which they hold their sessions. The I. 0. 0. F. Lodge also erected a neat and commodious brick hall in 1879 at a cost of sixteen hundred dollars. The Ohio Central Railroad passes through the village. A neat frame passenger depot was erected by the company for the accommo- dation of the many persons, who take the trains at this point. Large quantities of wheat and other cereals are purchased at this place and shipped to eastern markets by way of this railroad. The Ohio Canal transacts but a small amount of business since the advent of the railroad. Not more than one or two boats a week pass through Baltimore during the season. At one time, during the palmiest days of the canal, several hundred boats, passing each way, would go through the town during the summer and fall. Immense quantities of produce were shipped by canal boats to northern and eastern points. Basil is situated three-fourths of a mile west of Baltimore. It is a a neat and flourishing village of some three hundred inhabitants. It was laid out in 1825, by Jacob Goss. Jonathan Flattery surveyed the lots when the village was laid out. Henry D. Bolle was the first merchant in Basil. He kept his store in a log cabin. His first stock of goods was stored on a shelf twelve feet long and one foot wide. Sub- sequently he put up shelving and a rough counter. After selling goods for two years, he sold his stock to a Mr. Leonard, who, commencing with a capital of one hundred and fifty dollars, in a few years, built up quite an extensive trade. Henry Yanna erected the first hotel. He carried on, also, a butcher shop and sold large quantities of meat to the contractors on the canal. He had for his sign, an ox painted on a board, which served the double purpose of a sign for his tavern and butcher shop. Peter Daring kept the second tavern in the village. At that date hotel business was profitable and these two hotels did a good business. The construction of the canal caused an influx of strangers, such as has never been equaled since. There are in the village two drug stores, two dry goods stores, one general merchandise store, two carriage shops, two hotels, one butcher shop, one tin shop, one hardware store, one foundry, one flouring mill, four physicians, etc. A school-house was built in 1881. Professor Frank Schisler, with two assistants, have charge of the schools. The village is on the line of both the Ohio Canal and the Ohio Central Railroad. The citizens have erected a neat brick passenger depot, the first depot, a frame structure erected by the railroad company, having burned a short time after its completion. The company refusing to build another depot, the citizens succeeded in securing means for the building of a more substantial structure than the first one.
The village has the benefit of two mails a day via the Ohio Central Railway. John W. Chapman is the postmaster. With one or two exceptions, the first inhabitants of Basil are dead. Even all the original log and frame structures have disappeared. No traces of the first citizens remain. Many of the early inhabitants of Basil and Baltimore, and surrounding country, are laid away, awaiting the final summons, in the beautiful cemetery that lies between the two villages. Basil Lodge, No. 11, Knights of Pythias, was instituted October 23, 1877. The charter members were Samuel R. McCleary, T. J. Arnold, G. H. Godden, R. R. Carter, Adam Roley, Emanuel Kinsch, Lyman Norris, John Shoub, B. F. Harner, Noah Snider, Frank Cook, Isaac Grube, Benjamin Emch, Julius Shetzley, William Greer, David Kumler, W. H. Poff, William D. Caslow, and B. F. Roley. The order erected a hall in 1879. Present membership, about sixty. There is but one church in Basil---the Trinity Reformed. It was organized in 1844. The first male members of Trinity Church were Henry Leonard, Joseph Alt, Jacob Giesy, Peter Roshon, John Urben, John Doomy, Joseph Carminy, Peter Caley, Nicholas G. Messerley, John Leonard, George W. Tussing, Henry Switzer, and John Goss. The first pastor of Trinity Church was Rev. Henry K. Zerbe, who served the congregation from the time of its organization until July or August of the following year, when he died. The Rev. Jesse Schlosser was the second pastor, who continued in that relation until about 1853. He was succeeded by Rev. John Pence, who served the charge about one year and six months, when he resigned his pastorate. After his resignation the charge was without a regular pastor for eighteen months. During this time the congregations of Trinity and Mt. Zion Reformed churches were occasionally supplied with preaching by ministers of the Reformed and other branches of the church of Christ. The Rev. John Ruhl was the next pastor, and his pastorate continued about four years. The Rev. John Vogt, D.D., commenced his services as pastor about 1860, and served as such until January, 1863, when he was succeeded by Rev. Adam C. Kendig, who served the class about one year, when death severed the relation as pastor and people. The present pastor, Rev. G. H. Leonard, assumed the pastorate of Trinity Church January 15, 1865. He has continued to serve the congregation regularly since that date. At the beginning of the present pastorate the number of members in the Trinity congregation was about eighty-five, and the present membership is nearly three hundred. Trinity Church was completed in 1847. There is a prosperous Sunday-school in connection with this church, having George W. Kumler as superintendent.