HISTORY OF PERRY COUNTY
SALT LICK TOWNSHIP.
Saltlick township was organized about 1823, and received its name from a deer-lick, near where the town of McCuneville has since been built. It was six miles square when first organized, but a small portion of one corner was taken to help form the new township of Pleasant. At a later date, Saltlick was divided and Coal township formed from the southern part. Monday Creek, Sunday Creek and tributaries, drain the township of Saltlick. As a whole, it is hilly and, in part, exceedingly rough; though there are some good farming lands on the ridges, and also along the creeks. Some of it is very productive. It is all, or nearly all, underlaid with a good article of bituminous coal, and much of it with the so called "Great Vein," which is extensively mined at Shawnee. Parts of the township are also rich in iron ores. The Iron Point deposits, which lie high in the hills, are of great thickness, of good quality, and produce an enormous quantity of ore, which is used by the furnaces of Shawnee. The Iron Point deposit is reported nearly exhausted, but this seam of ore, in all probability, exists in other hills, at a corresponding horizon. What is now Saltlick township was settled in 1815, by the Hazletons and others. The following were of the very early settlers: John Hazleton, Sr., John Hazleton, Jr., Henry Hazleton, William Hazleton, Joseph Hazleton, Henry Rush, and William Bailey. The township settled up very slowly, and, for many years, had but a few voters and a small population. Saltlick was a former hunting-ground, in the early days. Its hills and narrow valleys abounded with deer, bears, wild turkies, and many varieties of smaller game. Panthers, wolves, wildcats and catamounts were not uncommon. People from the north part of this county, and from other places, came here to hunt. Many of them would stay for days, and some of them for weeks. The deer-lick, previously referred to, was frequently watched by the hunters, for the purpose of shooting the deer when they would come there to lick the salt water. The hunter would conceal himself, at a convenient distance, and when the deer would come and begin to lick, the hunter would fire, with a good chance of securing his game. After a while the deer would not venture to the lick in the daytime, but would frequent it at night. The hunters did not give it up, and, after scouring the woods through the day, would conceal themselves near the lick at night, and when they heard the deer drinking, would shoot by the sound. This, of course, made the result of the shot very uncertain; nevertheless, many a deer was killed in this way. There was, doubtless, many a fierce contest with deer and bear, in the early times of Saltlick; but the old pioneers and hunters are all dead,
many of them died long ago, and tradition is growing dim and uncertain concerning those far-away times. The men and women who were children in those early days can remember nothing more doleful than the howling of the wolves at dusk, and in the night. They were hunted and killed for the bounty paid by the State for their scalps. Deer skins were taken to market and sold, but brought, usually, only three cents a piece; yet the money received from this source helped pay taxes, in those days when taxation was very low. A company was organized and a salt works erected at the deer-lick, about 1829. A good article of salt was made there for several years, but the concern became unprofitable, and the works were abandoned. Coal was used for neighborhood use only, until the Newark, Somerset and Straitsville Railroad was built to Shawnee. A traveler who was passing through the county in January, 1855, remained over night with a hospitable farmer, at the foot of a large hill, not far from Shawnee Run, or a tributary thereof. The log house, with one room, contained a large grate, in which a coal fire was brightly burning. The entrance of the coal mine was scarcely two rods from the door of the dwelling, and the coal mine was the coal house. There appeared to be no coal bucket, but a huge bank shovel, on which nearly a bushel could be carried, was used to bring in coal to replenish the fire. The remains of this old house, a cabin, could not long since be seen, within the present limits of Shawnee, but the surroundings are entirely different from what they were in 1855. The facilities for market of the inhabitants of Saltlick, were not very good previous to the advent of railroads. There was no great surplus, however, and that made the trouble of marketing farm products less than it otherwise would have been. The surplus products had to be wagoned to New Lexington, Logan, or Athens, over rough roads. In the days when tobacco was raised it was taken to Rehoboth or Rushville, the principal tobacco markets. The building of the railroad changed all this, and Saltlick, with numerous other improvements, has a railroad station at Shawnee, and another at McCuneville; and Shawnee is a better market, for most country products, than Cincinnati or Columbus. New Straitsville, on another railroad, is but a short distance off. In a political way, Saltlick is distinguished for having been a strong Democratic township, until the disbandment of the Whig party and the organization of the Republican, since which time it has been about as strongly Republican as it had previously been Democratic. It gave a majority of eighty-three for John C. Fremont, for President, over Buchanan, in 1856. Saltlick, before its dismemberment, of course, raised the first three years' company in the county, for the War, which organized and rendezvoused at Old Straitsville, which was then in the township, but is now in Coal. Saltlick is also noted as the only township in the county, in which no draft was made for soldiers to serve in the War of the Rebellion. The township kept ahead of its quota on all occasions, and without ever paying a dollar of local bounty. It is one of a very few precincts in the state thus distinguished. A fearful calamity occurred at Sulphur Springs, in the eastern part of the township, on the evening of the ninth of September, 1870.
Lewis McDonald and George Gaver resided there. Gavel was proprietor of the flouring mill there, known as the Lyons Mill. McDonald was a large farmer, and had a small country store,. McDonald, Gaver and George W. Gordon were in the little store on the fatal evening. Gaver was buying some rock powder, and, upon examining it, expressed his opinion that it was not very good. He applied a match to a very small quantity in the palm of his hand, and it did not ignite. Mr. McDonald said that it was not a fair test of the powder, and proceeded to make a test himself. He took some out of a hole in a keg, and placed it on a chair, several feet therefrom. He lighted a match and applied it to the small quantity of powder on the chair. Immediately there was a terrific explosion, and the little brick store edifice was in ruins, with McDonald, Gaver and Gordon badly burned and partly buried in the debris. They succeeded in getting out in a short time, with great difficulty. Gaver went a few rods to his residence, without assistance. McDonald was seen to be badly hurt and was helped home. Both McDonald and Gaver gradually grew worse, and died in a few hours. A little son of Mr. McDonald, aged about three years, who was no doubt playing just outside the store, was buried under the ruins, and no doubt was instantly killed. His body was not recovered until next morning. A little boy ten years old, son of a Mr. Priest, of the neighborhood, was not known to be in the store, but is believed to have just reached the door when the explosion took place. He was badly burned, his clothes were set on fire, and himself blown out clear of the debris. The poor boy started and ran with all his might, his clothes burning, and after running some distance he jumped into the creek, fell over on his face, and would have drowned, but a lady who was passing went in and took him from the water. His clothing was all burned off, and he only lived a few minutes. Mr. Gordon, though badly hurt. eventually recovered. The victims of the explosion were buried on the Sunday following, and their mortal remains were followed to their final resting place by the largest concourse of people ever assembled, on a funeral occasion, in the county. Many persons were present from McConnellsville, Athens, Logan, New Lexington, and other places. McDonald and Gaver were highly respected citizens and sons of old pioneers, who were among the first to settle in the Sunday Creek country. A fatality appeared for a time to attend the place. A little while after the burning of the store, and its dreadful results, two boiler explosions occurred at the Lyons mill---to which reference has been made--- by which two or three persons were badly injured. Captain Lyons, who owned the mill---and from whom it received its name and retained it after other parties owned it---also met with a violent death in the town of Shawnee, in December, 1876. He had, at times, become dissipated in his habits, and one evening in December, of the year named, was at a saloon kept by Thomas Hughes. When the proprietor desired to close up, about 11 a. m., Lyons, who was somewhat intoxicated, requested the privilege of remaining in the saloon by the fire, over night, which request was reluctantly granted. Some time in the latter part of the night the building was discovered to be on fire. When Hughes came upon the scene he announced that Captain Lyons
was in the saloon. It was altogether too late to rescue him then, and there was a hope that he had in some way made his escape. When daylight came, his charred remains were found among the ruins. The cause of the fire will never be known, though it is probable that Mr. Lyons, in attempting to keep up the fire in the night, or in a delirious state, had placed kindling wood or other combustibles about the stove. Some person in the neighborhood heard Lyons shouting and pounding sometime in the night, and recognized his voice, but thinking that he was on a customary spree, paid no heed to it. At all events, it must have been a night of horrors to the old soldier, until death finally came to his relief. Captain Sam Lyons was a brave and generous man, and, until dissipation overcame him, was possessed of many noble impulses, and had a host of friends. Shawnee is the largest town in the township, and was laid out by T. J. Davis, in 1872. For two years after the town was laid out, its growth was most extraordinary, and its enlargement has not yet ceased. It is situated on Shawnee run, and two or three of the tributaries thereof. There are several large coal works within and about the town, and four furnaces, furnishing employment for large numbers of laborers. It has a postoffice, newspaper, station-house, two telegraph offices, two hotels, a large union school-house, five church buildings, several large stores, carrying heavy stocks of goods, and numerous smaller shops of various kinds. The town has a good municipal government, and it is, generally speaking, a quiet and orderly place. The Masons, Odd Fellows, and Knights of Pythias all have their lodges. Shawnee has 800 children of school age, and in 1880 had a population of 2,770, which, since that date, has probably increased to over 3,000. Here is the terminus of the N. S. & S. railroad. McCuneville was laid out in 1873, by Frank, John W. and John McCune, and is situated on the N. S. & S. railroad, two miles north of Shawnee. Large salt works were erected here in 1873-'74, and were run for several years, making a good article of salt; but from some cause they proved unprofitable, were discontinued, and now the entire buildings have been torn away, and the salt wells abandoned. McCuneville has a postoffice, school-house, railroad station, hotel, store, a number of good private residences, with a population of about 200. It has a M. E. Church society, which holds regular services in the second story of the school building. Other denominations sometimes hold religious services at the same place. Hemlock is a small village, situated in the eastern part of the township. It contains a postoffice, store, woolen mill, and a number of private residences. The Baptists were the pioneers in religion in Saltlick. A congregation was organized and a church built on the land of John Hazleton, about one-half mile south of where McCuneville now is, about 1820. This church antedates the oldest Baptist church at New Lexington, and is the first Baptist Church built south of the State road, leading from Zanesville to Lancaster. The Baptists of New Lexington attended the Hazleton church several years, and until the New Lexington church was organized. Mrs. Julia Barnd, an aged pioneer, recently deceased, used to say that in those pioneer times she had frequently walked from
New Lexington to the Hazleton church on Saturday, returning on Sabbath evening, carrying a child in her arms all the way there and back. The distance was seven or eight miles. Other pioneer women did the same, and did not consider it any hardship. The Hazleton church was used about fifteen years, and then abandoned as a house of worship, a new church being built about two miles north, also in Saltlick township. This church was used about the same length of time as the Hazleton church, then, by deaths and removals, the congregation was broken up, and the few members who remained attached themselves to the New Lexington church. The Catholics erected a stone church edifice one mile west of where McCuneville now is, about 1825, which was a regular charge for many years, but has been abandoned. There is a burying ground near the old church. The Disciples of Christ organized a church in the eastern part of the township, and erected a church in 1830. The congregation is still in existence, and the church building still in use. The churches in Shawnee are all of comparatively recent origin. The M. E. Church was organized soon after the town was laid out, and a church was erected in 1874. The Methodist Protestant congregation was organized about the same time, and the church was built in the same year. The Welsh Congregationalist Church was erected in 1875. The Welsh Calvinistic edifice was erected in 1878. The Catholic Church was built in 1880. The Baptists have not yet erected a church, but have an organization and hold regular services at a public hall. The Catholic Church is brick, all the others are frame. All of the churches in Shawnee maintain Sabbath schools. Some of them are very largely attended. Sulphur Springs, situated in the eastern part of Saltlick township, is a point of some note, on account of the mineral water there, and the general natural surroundings. The water of the Springs has been used to some extent for medical purposes, and it is probable that there is about as much virtue in it as in the water of most of the famous springs of the country. There are also some veins of alum water in Saltlick, as some of the wells and springs will testify. Saltlick township had, by the census of 1880, a population of three thousand nine hundred and seventy.