It is difficult to separate the first settlement of Canaan township from that of Athens, of which Canaan was originally a part. It will have been noticed that the pioneer settlements clung pretty closely to the water courses. In the absence of roads or any other means of communication, the navigable streams always decide the movements of emigration. The Hockhocking was, from all accounts, a considerably deeper stream and carried much more water seventy-five years ago than now, and was easily navigable for heavily laden barges. It thus became valuable as a means of communication and supplies, and the regions accessible by it were the first to be settled in the county. Accordingly, many of the first settlers of Athens township located within the present limits of Canaan, whose rich bottom lands proved very attractive. The township was organized in 1819.
The first election for township officers was held at the house of Edward Pilcher, on the first Monday of April in that year. The name of Canaan was suggested by Judge Walker, of Ames township, one of the county commissioners at this time.
The population of the township in 1820 was 356; in 1830 it was 375; in 1840 it was 800; in 1850 it was 1,142, and in 1860 it was 1,272.
The first election for township trustees was held at the house of Edward Pilcher, April 5, 1819. John C. Carico and Stephen Pilcher were judges, and Joshua Hoskinson and John McGill clerks of the election.
William Jackson settled in what is now Canaan township in 1799. A native of Ireland, he came to this country with his father’s family when nine years old, and lived for twelve or fifteen years in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, whence, after his marriage, he removed to the northwestern territory, and settled near the site of the present village of New England in Canaan township. He was a man of fine natural ability, good education, and considerable culture. In 1800 he surveyed the first road through the woods from Marietta to Chillicothe. In January, 1803, he was elected representative from this (then Washington) county to the state legislature, in opposition to Ephraim Cutler, and was an influential member of that body. In the fall of 1803 he was re-elected, and in the session of 1803-4, by a well-timed speech, defeated a bill offered by Philemon Beecher, requiring a property qualification for office holders. In 1804 he declined a renomination, in consequence of having received an appointment from the government to survey a large district of country on the Wabash river. In the discharge of this duty he went to Vincennes, Indiana, and died there soon after his arrival. Mr. John Jackson, of New England village, who died in the winter of 1867, was a son of his.
The Barrows brothers, William, George, and Henry, came to what is now Canaan township in 1797, and settled near where N. O. Warren now resides. During the next year they brought out their father, Ebenezer Barrows, and the rest of the family from the east. The old man had been a soldier in the French and revolutionary wars. His descendants are widely scattered through Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Iowa. One of his daughters, Mrs. Ebenezer Culver, is living in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, aged ninety years. Two of his grandsons, Voltaire and Massena, own the old Barrows’ mill on Federal creek. Perry Barrows has a farm near the mill tract. These are sons of Henry Barrows. Several of the children of George Barrows survive. Parker, now seventy years old, is a respectable farmer of Canaan township. Orange and George, also farmers, live in Rome township, the latter on the old farm. Between seventy-five and eighty of the descendants of Ebenezer Barrows, are known to have served in the Union army during the late rebellion.
Joseph Simmons was born in Pennsylvania in 1772, and settled in Canaan township in 1797. He says:
“The forests were full of game, and we could kill all the wild meat we wanted, but salt was the great need. However, we had to have it, and used to pack it on horses from the salt licks (over forty miles), at the rate of $4.00 a bushel, bitter water included. We raised corn, and we had a little hand mill to grind our hominy and meal for mush. There was a little tub mill on Margaret’s creek and one on Duck creek (Washington county), but none on Hockhocking. The number of males within the present limits of the township was six or seven, during the year after I came here.”
Martin Mansfield, born in New Jersey in 1779, settled in Canaan township in 1797, died August 7, 1860. His descendants are numerous and highly respected in the county. His brother Peter settled in Canaan on Willow creek about the same time, and was a leading man among the pioneers. Three of his sons, George, William, and Allen, still live in the same neighborhood.
Peter Boyles, a native of Bedford county, Pennsylvania, settled in what is now Canaan township in 1795. He was probably the first white settler within the present county of Athens. This was the year of the treaty of Greenville, and the close of the Indian war. Athens county was the very frontier at that time, and Mr. Boyles, in settling here, took his life in his hand, for this section was by no means safe in that year from Indian outrages. He lived in Canaan township till 1827, when he removed west, and died in Missouri in 1843. The date of his settlement here is accurately fixed by his son, George Boyles, who is still living in Andrew county, Missouri, and who was born in Canaan township June 5, 1795. He was, beyond doubt, the first white child born in Athens county. He says he was born “on the school section between the graveyard and the river.” Mr. Hocking H. Hunter, of Lancaster, Ohio, has frequently been accorded the distinction of having been the first white child born in the Hockhocking valley. He was not born till August 23, 1801. It hardly admits of a question that George Boyles, a native of Canaan, was the first white child born on the waters of the Hockhocking.
John Boyles, son of Peter, was born in Pennsylvania in 1791, came to Canaan township with his father’s family in 1795, and lived there till his death in 1849. Some of his descendants still reside in the county.
Peter W. Boyles, son of John Boyles, was born in Canaan township, December 20, 182o, and has since passed his life in this county. He now owns and lives on the “Daniel Stewart farm” in Rome township probably the best farm in the county. Samuel S. Boyles, another son of John, lives in Lodi township. Both he and Peter W. are prosperous and highly respected citizens.
Samuel Gillett was born in Hartford county, Connecticut, September 26, 1785, and came to Athens county in 1818. He first settled in Ames, where in 1819 he established a tannery, which was located near where the old brick church stood in after years. He frequently tanned the skins of wild animals, panthers, bears, etc., which were, even as late as that, sometimes used for clothing or household purposes. In 1823 he removed to Canaan township, and settled on Stroud’s run, about four miles east of Athens. He and his present wife were married in 1809.
Abel Miller came to Athens county in 1802 from Middletown, Connecticut. In 1803 he purchased land two miles below the town of Athens in what is now Canaan township, and built a log cabin the same year. In a few years he had opened a fine farm, which is still known as among the best in the valley. Mr. Miller was for a long time county surveyor. He surveyed the two college townships at one time, preparatory to a leasing of the lands. He was appointed a trustee of the Ohio university in 18o8, and served in that capacity till 1825 when he resigned. He was several times elected a justice of the peace, and served seven years as an associate judge. He died April 23, 1827, at the age of fifty years. Judge Miller was a man of large acquaintance, and deserved popularity through this and adjoining counties. He was a superior judge, a good citizen, and an excellent man.
Captain Parker Carpenter, a native of Killingly, Connecticut, came to this township in 1817, and settled on a new farm a little north of the present village of New England. He served in the war of 1812, before leaving Connecticut. A few years before his death he removed to Athens township and settled on a fine farm about two miles from Athens, where he died November 6, 1852, aged seventy-three years. He was an excellent citizen. Some of his descendants still live in the county, and are highly respected.
Joshua Hoskinson was born in Maryland in 1791, and settled with his father’s family in Canaan township in 1810. Deer, bears, and wolves were quite plenty in this region at that time. In his younger days Mr. Hoskinson was fond of hunting, though he says “Peter Mansfield and William Burch were the best; they caught and killed more wolves than any men we had.” Mr. Hoskinson volunteered in the war of 1812, and entered the service under Captain Jehiel Gregory of Athens. He says
“We went into winter quarters on the head waters of the Scioto, about the time that the British and Indians took possession of the French settlement on the Maumee river. General Tappan called for volunteers from his brigade to go on an expedition against the British on the Maumee, and I volunteered. There were about seven hundred officers and men. We took five days’ rations and started, I think, on the 7th of November, 1812. On the 13th, we came to the rapids of the Maumee. That night our scouts reported that the river was rising. Captain Gregory led the battalion forward, and with great difficulty we waded the river. But we went no further nor met the enemy. The failure of our provisions was, I suppose, the reason of our hasty return. On our march back to camp we were three days without anything to eat except spice-bush and slippery-elm bark. When we were about a day and a half’s march from camp, and nearly starved, we were met by pack horses with flour.”
Mr. Hoskinson was county commissioner twelve years, justice of the peace six years, and has held other local offices.
William Henry was born in Newport, eight miles above Marietta, October 18, 1804, and came to Athens county with his father’s family when sixteen years of age. He married a daughter of Captain Parker Carpenter, and ultimately settled in Canaan township on the farm formerly owned by Colonel William Stewart, on the Hockhocking, about eight miles below Athens. Mr. Henry is an excellent citizen and highly respected.
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