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BLOOM TOWNSHIP: HISTORY
Lancaster Eagle Gazette June 25, 1991
Rock Mill is mute reminder of Past by Katrina Predmore
New Englanders Joseph Loveland and Hezekiah Smith erected the first mill in 1799 at Rock Mill, named for the rocks in that particular area. They were said to have been traveling west and reached no further when they spotted the scenic site.
The original building was a log grist mill on the upper falls of the Hocking River, the first built on the river. It's located on old Columbus Marietta Road a few miles from Lancaster.
Smith and Loveland were said to have sold goods at their mill brought from Detroit on pack horses. The primary supplies were corn bread, potatoes, milk, butter and wild meats. Flour, teas and coffee was scarce and quite expensive if available. The mill, at its site handy to travelers, became a resting place, a general supply stop and a bartering spot for Indians.
Romance is associated with the old mill, according to an Eagle Gazette article in 1988 by Sue Daniels, Loveland courted and won a Miss Shellenbarger, whose father owned a mill at the lower falls of the Hocking River.
Another mill was built in the basin below the falls around 1820, but it was washed our by a flood. It was rebuilt in 1824 and was powered like the mill destroyed by flood, by an overshot wheel. This wheel was 26 feet in diameter.
In addition to Smith and Loveland, the mill has had several owners during its long history. Christian Morehart and Joseph Knabenshue took over from Smith and Loveland, followed by Phillip Homrighous and then John Foor.
The building was remodeled in 1899 to install a turbine over the falls to replace the outmoded water wheel. Proving unsatisfactory, the turbine was changed to steam power. The remodeling was done by Marion Solt, Foor and Edward and Jacob Alspach. A gentleman named Mr Talley became the new mill owner and was in turn bought out by J. P. Gundy and F. H. Barlow. W. S. Alspach was the last owner of the building while it was still in milling. It stopped operating in 1905. The mill is now owned by Fairfield County Historical Parks. This organization is spearheading a major renovation project at the site.
The first buhr stones used to grind flour and corn meal in Rock Mill probably were of French derivation or from local quarries in eastern Pennsylvania.
Three main floors of the building's five floors were used for general milling. Beams inside the building were of hand hewn oak.
In the historical photo to the right, (courtesy of Len Hajost ) a photographer and his camera provide a scale to visualize the sheer size of the building.
Photograph of Rockmill
donated to The Wagnalls Memorial
Picture taken circa - 1890
Excerpt from Crossroads and Fence Corners by Charles Goslin, 1976
Page 120: Bloom Township, one of the 11 townships of Fairfield County listed in tax assessment book of 1806, is known in legal transactions as Township 14, Range 20. Page 121: With Franklin County as its west boundary, Bloom Township (organized in 1805) is bordered on the north by Violet Township: on the east by Greenfield Township: on the south by Amanda Township.
Although no early roads (before 1802) reached Bloom Township and no navigable streams reached this township, Bloom was settled in the early days of Fairfield County. An abundance of strong flowing springs may have attracted the early settlers.
The most famous of these springs were at Jefferson. The waters from these springs were bottled and sold in Columbus under the name ”Jefferson Spring Water”. The waters from these springs were much in demand during a typhoid fever scare which hit central Ohio about the turn of the century.
Among the early residents were the Delaware Indians. Their Indian camp, known as Tobytown, was located in Bloom Township on Page 123
The banks of Little Walnut Creek which heads in this township. The first settlers called this stream Toby Creek because of this small Indian Camp.
Also, within Bloom Township the Hocking River has its beginning. From the center of the township (where Section 16, 17, 20 and 21 meet) the waters drain in four directions.
Flowing northward are the small streams which empty into Walnut Creek. Flowing west out of Bloom Township is Big Run. The waters draining south reach Little Walnut and Clear Creek. Flowing east are the waters of the Hocking River, a stream that may have been named by the early Indians of Tobytown.
Among the first roads laid out in what is now Fairfield County was the New Lancaster-Franklinton Road, opened to Rockmill in 1802 and extended through Bloom Township in 1803.
The first north-south road across Bloom Township was the Wheeling to the Lakes Road established in 1811. This early road, known as the War Road, passed through Greencastle (laid out in 1815) and Jefferson which was established in 1806, or thereabouts.
Religion and education were important to the first settlers of Bloom Township. As early as 1805, Abraham Courtright taught school in this township. According to the county records, land for a school west of Rockmill was granted in 1820 by Henry Leopart. The school which stood on this land was known as Number 5 school.
Page 124: Botanically, there are things of interest in Bloom Township. Many interesting plants grow on Chestnut Ridge. The largest Kentucky coffeetrees in Ohio and possibly North America, grow in this township, on outpost for the American Chestnut.
January 23, 1965
Country Schools of Bloom Township
During our rambles over Fairfield County by car and on foot, numerous small buildings were observed; som brick, and a few frame, structures. These were once one-room schools, some of which have been remodeled into attractive homes. Others ar used as storage sheds. A few still stand as abandoned buildings.
Quite a number of these early country schools, especially those of frame construction, have been dismantled and the lumber used in other structures on different sites.
Soon, the information concerning these schools, which are separate units in the field of education, will be lost. Each school district was under the control of a three-member board that did the hiring and controlled the school periods and administration.
Unless someone saved the minutes of these school districts, the information concerning them is lost. Only from the memories of those who taught or attended these schools will there be knowledge available on many of these early citadels of learning.
Through the courtesy of Charles L. Thrash, of Bloom Township, Fairfield County, and Curtis Thrash of Lancaster, we learned of the schools of Bloom Township.
One of the first schools in Bloom Township was a small log structure erected about 1816 by John Chaney a mile south of the present location of Lockville. When this early school was destroyed by fire, a second school was erected on land granted in 1850 to School District No. 1 by John Alspach. This school now converted into a residence continued to be known as the Chaney School.
Page 125: The school at Lockville, known as No. 2 school, was on land transferred to the Bloom Township School District by James Chaney in 1885 and is now the Zion Lutheran Church.
The Jefferson School, known as No. 3 is in the community of Jefferson, laid out by George Hosher in 1806. In laying out this first community of Fairfield County (except for Lancaster), land was set aside for public use. Whether a school stood on this public land, we have been unable to learn. The land where the present abandon school still stands was granted to the school board in 1892 by Talbot and Cross.
The No. 4 school is now an attractive residence and was known as the Brick School. Land where this school stands, near the Hoy Memorial Church, was granted (1850) by Levi Spangler and (1885) by Nathaniel Hoy. This, too, may not have been the first school in this school district.
Heister Settlement was the name of the District 5 school, which stood midway between Rockmill and Marcy.
The land where this school stood was the first to be recorded in Bloom Township records. Leopharts transferred this land to the Bloom Township District No. 5 school board in 1820. It may once have been known as the Leophart School.
The Greencastle school, in the community laid out in 1815 by Jesse Courtright, stood on land transferred by Anderson and Margaret Weiser. This took place in 1877; so, again, this may not have been the first school in the community.
The No. 7 school stood on the Coonpath Road and was known by that name. The first land for this school was granted in 1830 by John Bear. Years later, John and Rachel Flood granted additional land for the Coonpath School.
Wesley Chapel School once stood near the Wesley Chapel Methodist Church, in the Rock Mill neighborhood. Known as Number 8 school, the land on which it stood was granted by the Williamson family. Some years ago, all that remained of this school was the pump.
The No. 9 school was the Egypt School on Salem Church Road. This former school is now a residence. We have never been able to learn the origin of this name.
The Salem School, known as No. 10 stands near the Salem United Methodist Church and received it name because of the nearness of this church. Where this school stands was once the Zaayer land.
Page 126: About a mile east of the small community of Marcy, the No. 11 school once stood. It was known as the Marcy school. Schools with community names were not necessarily within those communities for which they were named. The recorded date for the Marcy School is 1880.
The No. 12 District of Bloom Township was in the northeast corner of the township. The school in that district was known as the Moore school and named for the Moore's, who owned land across the road. This school, which still stands, has been converted into a residence.
Of these one-room schools of Bloom Township, nine still stand. Eight have been converted into residences and one stands abandoned. This is the Jefferson School.
To preserve the past and service as a memorial to those who taught in these country schools, one of these schools should be saved within the county and restored to its original pattern.
May 13, 1967
Page 130: Bloom Township Pioneers
During the November, 1805, term of the Court of Common Pleas of Fairfield County, the Board of Commissioners laid out a number of Fairfield County Townships. One of these was Bloom Township, although much larger than our present Bloom Township of approximately 36 square miles.
This new township in which Abraham Van Courtright’s home was selected for the first township election, included not only the present Bloom Township but also all of the present Violet Township. Why this township, known as Township 14 in Range 20, is so named is not given in the histories of Fairfield County.
Maybe there is some connection between this township name and that of Violet Township, which was once a part of Bloom Township. The native plant or shrub in bloom when this township was erected by the county commissioners would have been witch-hazel, which would have been blooming in the Rockmill gorge, where a mill was erected in 1799. This mill was the eastern edge of what became known as Bloom Township. Of course, it’s only a guess that Bloom Township received it name from witch-hazel.
Histories tell that the first settlers came to Bloom Township as early as 1799 and 1800. However, they must have been squatters, since this was Congress Lands and was not offered for sale prior to 1801. There is one land transaction made in Cincinnati (according to a reference in the Fairfield County records) in 1799 of a Joseph Loveland. However it did not give the exact location. If it was in Fairfield County, it would have been an illegal sale. Congress Lands of what is now Fairfield County would not have been available for purchase in that year.
Sketch map of Bloom Township showing the
dates of the first land patents in each section.
Page 131: There is a land patent reference for Section 25 of Bloom Township signed by Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, and issued on January 5, 1837, to Joseph Buchwalter, an assignee by decree of the court. This is the section of land on which the Rockmill is located. It could be that the Joseph Loveland ownership of the Rockmill site was never honored by the General Land Office.
Of those who are listed on the 1806 personal property tax list of Fairfield County, 14 were land patent holders in Bloom Township of the present day boundaries.
The first of these was David Wright, who land patent carried the date of 1802 and was signed by Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States. David Wright was associated with Joseph Loveland in a land purchase in Bloom Township, although no this 1802 purchase.
The next land patent date was in 1805, for Section 12, and was issued to Henry Tomlinson (Tumbleston on the 1806 tax list). Judge John Chaney, in his recollections, gives Tomlinson as one of his neighbors.
Those whose land patents in Bloom Township carried the date of 1806 were Samuel Spurgeon, Michael Stine, Samuel Lee, Major Bright, and Martin Falkner (Falkner spelled Felner on the 1806 tax list).
A year later, 1807, Zebulon Lee, John Hanna, Andrew Flick, Peter Hairoff, Isaac Mason, Reuben Newkirk and Samuel Harper received their land warrants (land patents) from the General Land Office at Washington, although these purchases were made through the Chillicothe Land Office.
According to the recollections of Levi Stewart in Scott’s History of Fairfield County, John Hanna was a resident of Greenfield Township, so would not be considered a pioneer of Bloom Township although he bought land there at an early date.
In 1808 we find (according to patent records) Thomas Holmes, George Needles, Henry Alspach, Adam Schneider, and Wilkinson Lane owning land in Bloom Township.
Wilkinson Lane came from Huntington County, Tennessee, in1808 and settled on Section 8 of Amanda Township. This land, he discovered, was being purchased by Thomas Cole, as he came north and took up land in Section 32 of Bloom Township.
The Hoys were among the first to settle in Bloom Township. Daniel Hoy received his land warrent in 1809, and 1816 is the date of Adam
Page 132: Hoys land patent. It was in 1809 that Phillip Glick, a neighbor of the Hoys, received his warrent for Section 30. Six years later he became owner, along with Daniel Wortering, of Section 19, the next section north.
The greatest number of government land sales in Bloom took place during the years of 1811 to 1815. During these years there were more than 40 sales of government lands. The last sale, except for the assignment made by the court in 1837, was made for government land in Bloom Township in 1832, according to the records in the Fairfield County Courthouse.
In 1802 or 1803 Christian Crumly (Crombich on land patent) came to Bloom Township and settled along the headwaters of the Hockhocking. However, he discovered he had settle on the wrong land. He crossed to the other side of the streat and took up government land sometime prior to 1812, the date of his land patent.
It was in 1813 that Jacob Baugher received the land patent for the east holf of the section where Lithopolis is located. It was Frederick Baugher who laid out the community of Centerville, now called Lithopolis.
George Hosher, immediately after making his initial payment on land in Section 3, laid out in 1806 the town of Jefferson. It was in 1811 that he received the patent for this land.
Jesse D.Courtright received his land warrent in 1814 and one year later laid out the community of Greencastle along the first road to pass through what is now Bloom Townshipo. This was the road between Lancaster and Franklinton.
Section 16, the school lands of Bloom Township, were sold by Ohio governors Douglas McArthur and Wilson Shannon in 80 acre tracts. These sales took place between 1831 and 1839, and the money from these sales was deposited with the treasurer of Fairfield County, to be used for school purposes within Bloom Township.
Nearly 100 land patents were issued by the General Land Office to lands within Bloom Township. Since the dates of these patents were in the early 1800s, these patent holders could be considered the pioneers of Bloom Township. There are many who did not take up land in the township but arrived during the early days and spent their lives there. They, too, should be considered settlers, since they helped make the township what it is today
August 4, 1973
Columbus Dispatch 5-18-95 by John Switzer
Imagine for a moment how it was when Franklinton was laid out in 1797. There were no roads then in what is now Franklin County, only trails for horse trains. The settlement was surrounded by unbroken forest wilderness.
The first road built out of Franklinton (which later became Columbus) says the "History of the City of Columbus, Ohio by Alfred Lee" went to Lancaster. The reason for that was to link Franklinton with Zane's Trace, a road that went from Wheeling, W.Va to Maysville, Ky. Ebenezer Zane laid it out in 1797. The trace passed through Lancaster and Zanesville.
"For many years it was the principal, indeed the only traveled route through the Ohio wilderness," Lee's history says.
In 1803 a road was built from the public square in Franklinton to Lancaster. Part of that road (from near Groveport to Lancaster) is now Lithopolis Road, says the book "Crossroads and Fence Corners" by Charles Goslin.
The part of the road from Lancaster to a place once called Rock Mill in Fairfield County was built a bit earlier. The place gets it name from a grist mill built there in 1799. Rock Mill Road is still on the map.
You have to remember this road building through the wilderness was going on 30 years earlier than the National Road (Rt. 40) was built.
Jo Riegel, director of community services at Wagnalls Memorial Library in Lithopolis, told me that Lithopolis was once named Centerville because it was halfway between Lancaster and Columbus. The name was changed because there was another Centerville in Ohio.
In 1836 a local doctor suggested Lithopolis, which is the Greek word for "village of stone". He chose that because there was a large sandstone quarry in town in those days. The ravine that runs the length of the town is the old quarry, Riegel said.
So if you stumble across Lithopolis Road in your travels, remember that it was the first road in these parts.