PART V.

HISTORY OF PERRY COUNTY.

BY E. S. COLBORN

 

HISTORY OF PERRY COUNTY

CHAPTER I.

GEOGRAPHY, TOPOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY.

     PERRY COUNTY is situated in the southeastern part of the State of 
Ohio, is bounded on the north by Licking and Muskingum, on the east 
by Muskingum and Morgan, on the south by Athens and Hocking,
and on the west by Hocking and Fairfield. Its area is four hundred
square miles. It is of irregular shape, and is longest from north-west 
to south-east.
     The divide, separating the waters which flow into the Hocking, 
from those that flow into the Muskingum, reaches the long way through 
the county, coming in at the north, in Thorn township, west of Thornville, 
and going out at the south, in Bearfield township, near Porterville. 
The highest parts of this divide, are about 500 feet above the level of 
Lake Erie; and about 1000 higher than the Atlantic ocean.
About one-third of the county is drained into the Muskingum, and 
the remaining two-thirds into the Hocking. The Moxahala, (more 
commonly called Jonathan's Creek,) and its tributaries drain that portion 
of the county whose waters flow into the Muskingum; and Rush 
Creek, Monday Creek, Sunday Creek and their tributaries, that portion, 
of the waters which flows into the Hocking. The Moxahala, or 
Jonathan's Creek, has a principal north and south branch, the sources 
of which are comparatively far apart. The head-waters of the north 
branch are in the neighborhood of Thornville; those of the south 
branch are several miles southeast of New Lexington. The north and 
south branches of the Moxahala do not, in fact, unite within the limits 
of the county, but several miles over the line in Muskingum. Rush 
Creek also has two main branches, (known as north and south,) which, 
like those of the Moxahala, have their source in different parts of the 
county. The head waters of the north branch are in the western 
part of Thorn township; those of the south branch are near Rehoboth, 
nearly twenty miles distant. The north and south branches of 
Rush Creek do not come together in the limits of Perry, but near Bremen, 
in Fairfield county. Monday Creek has its chief sources in the 
neighborhood of Bristol, Maxville and Middletown, and Sunday creek 
consisting of three principal branches, in the vicinity of Whipstown, 
Oakfield and Thompsonville. All these creeks have numerous tributaries, 
and the natural drainage system of the county is one of the best 
in the State.
     The description of the divide, and what has been said about the 
water courses and drainage, has already indicated, in a great measure,

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the general topography of the county. The divide, as has been stated, 
extends through the county from northwest to southeast, its line being 
crooked and irregular. Between the streams that flow from this backbone 
ridge, and its numerous spurs, are other ridges, many of them 
nearly as high as the great divide itself. In other places, the elevations 
between the streams are only small plateaus, sufficiently elevated to be 
picturesque and healthy. But Perry has, in fact, all kinds of land, 
from narrow valleys, gentle slopes, and moderately rolling country, to 
winding and tortuous ridges, and steep and almost inaccessible hills. 
     As to soil, that of Perry County is neither the best nor the worst. 
A considerable portion of it has ever been, and is now, quite productive. 
Nearly all of it would originally produce very good crops. Much of it, 
in course of years, became worn-out and would yield no more, but is 
fast being reclaimed, and bids fair to produce more than ever, under a 
good system of farming. The virgin soil was thin, and would not hold 
out a great while, without a care and attention that was seldom given. 
But a new day is dawning on the farming community.
     When the first white settlers arrived, the country in general was 
well timbered. The timber consisted of oak, hickory, poplar, walnut, 
ash, elm, sugar, maple, beech, gum, chestnut, sycamore, wild cherry, 
dogwood and some other varieties. Many of the oaks were very large 
and of a fine quality.
     Wild beasts were not scarce when the early settlers came. Bears, 
deer, panthers, wild-cats, wolves and catamounts roamed at will 
through the dense forests with none to molest them or make them 
afraid. Bears, indeed, lingered around long enough to capture fattening 
hogs from pens and to eat peaches under trees planted by the pioneers. 
Foxes, coons, opossums, ground-hogs, rabbits, squirrels and 
other small animals abounded. Wild turkeys were plentiful, and the 
hoot of the owl, the cry of the whippoorwill and the call of the pheasant 
were familiar sounds in the ears of the men and women who left 
civilization behind and went forth to battle for existence and homes 
in wild forest.
     Nearly all of Perry county lies within the coal measures, the only 
exception being about six-sevenths of Thorn township and about one-fifth 
each of Reading and Jackson. It is not to be inferred that all the 
remaining portion of the county lies in the workable coal area, for such 
is not the fact. But the surface and all projecting rocks are such as 
belong to the geological structure known as the coal measures, though 
the coal seams in some parts of it may be found wanting. The coal 
measures, so-called, consists of seams of coal with interstratified deposits 
of limestone shale, sandstone, iron ore and fire-clay. The coal 
seams are not scattered haphazard through the series, but have their 
proper places in the formation. Though this is true generally, it sometimes 
happens that a coal seam becomes thin and worthless, and in 
some places fails altogether; but each seam has its own place in the 
series, and hence the classification as given by the professional geologists. 
The series of deposits known as the Coal Measures, is said to 
rest on the Maxville limestone, and when that is lacking, upon the 
Logan sandstone or upper Waverly stone.
     The principal coal seam of the series is known as number six, or the

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Nelsonville seam, the Straitsville seam, the “great vein,” the great 
seam, and perhaps by other names. It was first mined at Nelsonville, 
but is the same seam as the Shawnee, Straitsville, Corning, Rendville 
and Buckingham seam. This seam is six feet thick at Nelsonville, 
from ten to eleven at Straitsville and Shawnee, and from ten to thirteen 
at Buckingham, Corning, Rendville and other points on Sunday Creek. 
A seam from three to four feet in thickness, generally believed by geologists 
to be the same as the “great seam” further south, extends over 
nearly all of Pike, Clayton, Harrison and much of Reading, Bearfield 
and Madison townships. This is the seam generally mined. Another 
coal seam from four to five feet thick, about sixteen feet lower in the 
coal measure formation, is found in the neighborhood of New Lexington, 
and it is thought will be found generally wherever the other seam 
exists. Some geologists express the opinion that those two seams taken 
together, are the equivalent of the great seam of Straitsville and Sunday 
Creek, as there they appear to be two distinct seams, though 
found close together.
     From forty to fifty feet above the “great vein,” where the hills are 
high enough, is what is to be found the Norris coal, the seam from five 
to six feet in thickness. This seam, however, is not persistent, and 
sometimes is wanting altogether. But it is a good coal and is found in 
several places. Another seam of coal known as the Stallsmith, from 
eighty to ninety feet above the great seam, and from four to five feet 
thick, is tolerably persistent, though it sometimes is not found when due. 
This coal has been mined, is pronounced a good coal, and is said to be 
highly valuable for some purposes. What is called the lower New Lexington 
seam, because it has been mined at this place, if it be persistent, 
as it probably is, may prove to be a very valuable coal of commerce. 
It is from five to six feet thick in places, and is a dry-burning coal, and 
valuable for many purposes. If this seam extends over a wide area to 
the north and east, it will in the aggregate be of very great value. 
There are some other veins of coal that are soft, in the geological 
structure of the Coal Measures, but they are unimportant, and may be 
omitted specific mention.
     The iron ores may be grouped into two divisions---those situated below 
the great coal seam No. 6, and those found above it. A seam of 
ore is often found resting on the Maxville and Newtonville limestone. 
Prof. Andrews states that he has found a good ore above the horizon 
near Maxville, and also in Reading and Madison townships. He has 
found other ores near Crossenville, entirely belonging to the lower coal 
measures, but he could not ascertain their places definitely. The Baird 
ore, so called because it is the one chiefly used at Baird’s iron works in 
Monday Creek township, is a well defined and valuable seam, and is 
situated about thirty-five feet below the great seam, No. 6, of coal. 
This places it below the lower New Lexington coal. This has proved 
to be a very valuable ore, but as it dips to the east, and is too thin to 
admit of drifting, it is only available near the western margin of the 
coal measures. The “sour apple” ore, situated above the Norris coal, 
has been discovered in many places, and traced all the way from Sunday 
Creek to New Lexington. It has not been much used yet, but it 
is believed to be a good ore. The “Iron Point” ore is an important

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deposit and is situated about one hundred feet above the great coal 
seam, No. 6. The equivalent of the Iron Point ore has been discovered 
at several places, varying in thickness from one to thirteen feet. 
The “Hone ore” two miles east of New Lexington, discovered by 
the Moxahala Furnace Company, was, on a purchased area of something 
over an acre, from seven to eight feet thick, and of good quality. 
Another deposit of ore, believed to be on the horizon of the Iron Point 
was found on the Whitlock farm, in Pleasant township. In the 
neighborhood of Bristol in Pike township, a large area of the Iron Point 
has been found, ranging from two to thirteen feet in thickness. 
There are other outcrops and deposits of ore in various places and at 
different horizons, but geologists have not fully studied or classified 
them, and a sufficient number of` borings has not been made to fairly 
test their extent or value. Experience, the best off all teachers, has 
proven that good and valuable ores exist in Reading, Jackson, Pike, 
Pleasant, Monroe, Saltlick, Coal and Monday Creek townships, 
and there is little doubt that Harrison, Bearfield, Clayton, Hopewell and 
Madison townships will ultimately be found rich in the same commodity. 
General theories and opinions go for something, particularly 
of learned and trained geologists; but there are so many variations 
and limitations to the general recognized structure of the Coal 
Measures with their limestone, ore, coal, sandstone, shale, etc., that 
only actual and minute inspection and investigation can fully disclose 
wonders that directly underlie the surface of the Coal Measures of 
Perry county. Even the great coal seam is sometimes wholly or partially 
missing where geologically due; the iron ores often lie in pockets, 
and are sometimes discovered where no geologist with all the information 
available would expect to find them. Hence, it will take time, 
more or less, and certainly it will require some expenditure of money 
and not a little labor, and careful, untiring investigation, to fully determine 
the area, extent and value of iron ore deposits in Perry county. 
     As has been stated, the coal measures rest upon the Maxville limestone, 
and that rests upon the Logan sandstone, or Upper Waverly. 
The Maxville limestone, or its equivalent, is sometimes missing, and in 
that case the coal measures rest directly upon the sandstone of the 
Upper Waverly. Geologists state that the Maxville and Newtonville 
limestones are one, and that their equivalent is found along the lowest 
valleys in both the eastern and western parts of Perry county. The 
northern branches of Rush Creek and Jonathan's Creek, both, in 
places, uncover the limestone and expose it to full view. In many 
other places it is believed that it might be easily uncovered and found. 
What is asserted to be an equivalent of the Maxville and Newtonville 
limestone was largely quarried in Reading, Clayton, and Madison 
townships for use in constructing the Zanesville and Maysville turnpike. 
There are several limestone quarries in Perry county, developed 
since the erection of blast furnaces, of a higher horizon than the Maxville 
limestone, but geologists do not appear to have traced them carefully, 
and whether they belong to the Putnam Hill, Zoar, or Cambridge 
series or to independent and unclassified formation, is a subject of 
conjecture and to be decided by future investigations. Many of them are 
known to be of good quality, whatever may be their relation to the

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general geological structure of the coal measure system. In the recognized 
limestone horizons, there is sometimes found bastard limestone 
deposits, which are of little or no value. In other localities flint or 
chert appears to take the place of limestone. The chert is used for 
pikeing roads or streets, and is very useful and durable for that purpose.
Fire clays are often found interstratified among the coal measure 
rocks, though there has been, as yet, no special investigation of this 
subject, or considerable test of the qualities of the clay. There is little 
room to doubt, however, that a very considerable portion of Perry 
county will prove to be rich in this important material. Potter’s clay is 
found to exist, in a greater or less degree, in all parts of the county, 
though the best and richest beds appear to be in the eastern part, in 
which section many potteries are in operation and large quantities of 
ware manufactured.
     When the white settlers came there was a salt spring, or “deer 
lick,” on the present site of McCuneville, hence the name of Saltlick 
township. There is a sulphur spring on a branch of Sunday Creek, 
and there is also a similar spring of medical virtue in the south-western 
part of Reading township. There are a few alum springs, and a number 
of alum wells of no special value or economic importance, and only 
interesting as indicating the various composition of the coal measure 
system.
     The county is extremely well watered, considered in the aggregate. 
In addition to the creeks and smaller streams, that are hereinbefore outlined, 
the surface of the county is dotted with numerous springs, affording 
a bountiful supply of pure water the year round. Digging wells 
was one hardship that few of the pioneers were called upon to undergo. 
Wells are even yet infrequent, except in towns and villages, and good, 
pure water is almost everywhere secured at no very great depth and at 
no inordinate expense. The spring water is usually “soft” and the 
well water “hard”, though both have exceptions.
     Sandstone of a durable nature, suitable for building purposes, is 
found in almost all parts of the county. The most of this stone quarries 
easily and works well. Though the county abounds in stone quarries 
and outcrops of stone, very little of it, comparatively, lies so near 
the surface as to disturb the plowman, or in any way to interfere with 
the proper cultivation of the soil. If the Maxville or Newtonville limestone 
is good for building purposes---and it is now almost universally 
so considered---the county surely has an abundant supply of different 
kinds of stone for building, both for home and foreign consumption. 
A few stone houses were built, quite early in the history of the county, 
which have withstood the storms, freezes, and thaws of many a year, 
and are yet but little the worse for the wear. If these may be taken as 
testimony, the stone may be considered as of a fairly durable character.
     It is not within the scope or general purpose of this work to enter 
into a discussion of speculative or minutely descriptive geology. Nearly 
all of Perry county is included within the coal measures, and the soil is 
all, or nearly all, supposed to be native, and composed from the decaying 
and pulverization of the underlying rocks. Nearly all of Thorn 
township, and small portions of Reading and Jackson townships, are 
in the “Drift” section, which comprises about two-thirds of the State,

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and all the north-western part. The soil and directly underlying 
deposits of the Drift are of foreign origin, and came, at some unknown 
and remote period, probably from the far north, the round gravelstones 
found in it, rounded and rolled, probably, by the strong glacial 
currents that bore down from the north. The little smooth, roundish 
stones, of various colors, that are seen along the railroads in most of 
Perry county, are not native inhabitants, but have been brought in from 
the Drift region west and north, where they have been long enough to 
gain a residence; and yet, in the long ago, they were unconscious 
immigrants from a far-off country. The stones and pebbles of the 
coal measures are of quite a different character. Whoever reads what 
is herein written concerning geology, will obtain a hint of the uncertainty 
and incompleteness of the science; whoever studies carefully the 
various printed works upon the subject, will be yet more deeply impressed 
with the same fact. Yet it is undeniable that much valuable 
and economic knowledge has been gathered and assorted by learned 
and patient geologists and investigators; and further information that 
will bear good fruit to commerce and mankind, is sure to be secured by 
their study and industry; yet it is but simple candor to admit that there 
is much about the changes and making of the earth which they cannot 
fathom or disclose, and that, in view of the many useful pursuits which 
may occupy every energy of the mind and body, it seems something 
like folly to waste time upon mere speculation or guesses as to the inert, 
unconscious, unknown and unknowable.

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