Bern was originally included in Ames township, and was not separately organized till 1828. Incorporated with Ames for thirty years, much of its early history will be found in connection with that township.
March 3, 1828, the county commissioners resolved that the original surveyed township No. 7 in range 12 in Athens county, at present a part of Ames township, be set off, and that a township by the name of Bern be established as above described.” The electors were directed to meet at the house of John Henry on the first Monday of April at 9 o’clock A. M. to elect township officers.
The lands of Bern lie exceedingly well for agricultural purposes, and her farmers compare favorably with any for thrift and enterprise. The township is well watered by the head waters of Federal creek, Sharp’s fork of which traverses it from north to south. Its population in 1830 was 223; in 1840 it was 381; in 1850 it was 819; in 1860 it was 1,022. There are but thirty sections in Bern, the eastern tier of sections having been set off to Washington county in 1807. Coal is known to exist here in great abundance, and salt water has been found of good quality and in workable quantity.
Eames Dickey was born of Irish parents in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, September 3, 1788, came to the northwestern territory with his father’s family in 1798 and settled first in Washington county. When a young man Mr. Dickey was employed as a post rider to carry the mail on horseback, between Marietta and Chillicothe, a distance of about one hundred miles. Between 1806 and 1814 he was variously engaged in the mail service, sometimes as a sub contractor, but always doing the riding of one hand himself. At that time the mail service in this section was one of great hardship and frequently of danger, as the numerous streams along the route, all destitute of bridges, were often swollen and had to be crossed at the peril of life. From 1812 to 1814, during the war with Great Britain, the great East and West mail was sent over this route, the bag being sometimes nearly filled with government dispatches alone. The riders (three in number), each made one round trip a week from Marietta to Chillicothe and return, regardless of weather and of all obstacles. Mr. Dickey once swam the creek near Amesville in the night, running great risk and getting the mail thoroughly wet. On reaching John Brown’s in Ames, one of his regular stopping places, he spent a short time drying the mail bag before the fire and then went on in the darkness.
During the war the contract required the mail to be carried at the rate of five miles an hour, and the government enforced the condition rigorously. Mr. Dickey became noted for his energy and fidelity in fulfilling his mail contracts, and in this, as in all other respects, established a reputation for strict integrity and rare business capacity. At one of his stations on the route he had a rest of about two hours once a week, and this was usually spent by him in hunting. He often killed one and sometimes two deer, or perhaps several wild turkeys, if they were soonest found, and brought them in for the family with whom he boarded, and received credit for the game on his board account; in this way he paid nearly his whole board and horse keeping at this station.
In 1815 Mr. Dickey married Betsy, daughter of Samuel Brown, and bought a small farm near Mr. Brown’s, eight miles west of Marietta, where he lived till he removed to Bern. He came to Bern in 1821 and settled on Sharp’s fork where he opened a large farm, and where he lived about thirty-four years and reared a family of three sons and two daughters. His house in Bern became a favorite and noted stopping place for travelers and there are many who still remember his hospitality and good cheer. Mr. Dickey never sought office or notoriety; he however served as county commissioner and township trustee at different times. In 1852 or ‘3, after his wife’s death, he disposed of his farm in Bern among his sons, and a few years later went to live with his son Mr. A. S. Dickey, in McConnellsville, where he died June 12, 1862.
John Henry, a native of Ireland, settled in Bern township in 1817, being then fifty-three years old. He bought a section of land here and opened up the farm where his son Charles Henry now lives. On this farm he lived till his death in February, 1854. Mr. Henry was twice married. By his first wife he had four sons and five daughters, and by his second four sons and six daughters. He live to see eight sons and ten daughters married and comfortably settled, and left behind him at his death eighteen children, fifty-six grandchildren and a number of great grandchildren. He was a member of the Presbyterian church and a leading and influential citizen during the active years of his life. Several of his descendants have intermarried with the family of Abel Glazier and are well known throughout the county.
John Henry has a genealogy that was published in 1922 on his family and descendants. I expect to have it online shortly at the Surname Guide’s website. Genealogy of the descendants of John Henry of Bern Township, Athens County, Ohio, by Heber Homer Henry, Athens, Ohio, Messenger Printery Co., 1922
John Wickham, son of Joseph Wickham, was born in Vermont, July 1, 1784, and came to Athens county with his father’s family in 1805, settling first in Rome township. Later he removed to Bern township where he died March 1g, 1863. He served as a volunteer in the war of 1812, and was marching to join Hull’s army (his command being yet two days’ march distant), when that general surrendered.
Warren W. Wickham, son of John, lives on the farm of his late father at the mouth of Marietta run in Bern township-has been a justice of the peace and township trustee.
William Rardin, born near Pittsburg, April 29, 1797, came here in 1822 and settled on the state road between Marietta and Athens. For many years the wolves were a great scourge, and the secluded valley of the Marietta run, at the head of which he lived, was about their last retreat. Mr. Rardin has been a farmer all his life and his descendants are well known in the township.
Dyar Selby, born in New York in 1784, came to Ohio at an early day, and about 1833 settled in Bern township-has been township trustee and justice of the peace. His descendants live in Bern.
Edmund Perry, David Parkins, and John E. Vore, all settled in Bern at an early day, and were among the most respected citizens. Mr. Vore is known as an extensive stock dealer and was county commissioner for several years.
Thornton Swart, born in Loudoun county, Virginia, in 1793, settled in this township in 1838 on Possum run, adjoining Owen Gifford’s place. Mr. Swart served in the war of 1812. He now resides with his son.
David and Daniel James and Philip W. Lampson, well known citizens, settled here in 1820. The James family still live in Bern. Mr. Lampson went to Kansas in 1864.
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