The first person who settled in what is now Rome township was David Dailey, a veteran soldier of the revolution, and decidedly ” a character.” Born in Vermont in 1750, he removed to western New York after his discharge from the army, and thence to Cannonsburg, Pennsylvania, whence he migrated in the year 1797 to the northwestern territory. With his family, consisting of two daughters and five sons, of whom Benonah H. Dailey, of Carthage township (the youngest son), is now the sole survivor, he came down the Ohio river in a pirogue to the mouth of the Hockhocking, and up that stream to the mouth of Federal creek, where he at once opened up a farm. The place on which he settled is now known as the Beebe farm.
Around him was an unbroken wilderness. The nearest neighbors were at the settlement at Athens, about twelve miles distant. Parties of Indians were frequently seen on hunting excursions, or on their way to Wheeling to barter their furs. Having lived about three years on the farm first settled by him, he sold it to Judge Elijah Hatch, and, with his family, removed to Carthage township. Dailey was a famous hunter, fond of the exciting sports of pioneer life, and cultivated a sort of contempt for the comforts and conveniences of civilization. With his dogs and hunting equipments, and with a dead bear or deer on his back, homeward bound, he was as happy as a king. The story of his many rencounters with wolves, bears, and panthers, after settling in Athens county, would form an interesting narrative, and graphically illustrate the excitements of pioneer life. Our informant says:
“I exceedingly regret that some of these stories, which I have heard him relate, are so blurred in memory that I find it impossible to reproduce them. And, then, the old man told them with such a peculiar zest that much would unavoidably be lost in a repetition. His imperturbable gravity, the immobility of his countenance, even when uttering a dry joke or relating an amusing anecdote, at which the bystanders were in a perfect roar of laughter, were wonderful. Yet I have often seen his eyes fill with tears at a tale of suffering. Even in relating the death of a favorite dog-Piper-belonging to a fellow huntsman, the tears would start. He assisted in burying the dog with ‘ military honors,’ on the bank of a branch now bearing the dog’s name.”
Captain Chittenden, afterward governor of Vermont, commanded the company in which Dailey served during the revolutionary war. Several years after he came to Ohio to live, Dailey applied for a pension, and walked all the way to Vermont to obtain, from his old captain, the necessary certificate and vouchers. After his return to the west he would often relate, with much gusto, the hearty greetings and warm welcome he received from the governor, and, during his stay of several days, remembered to have particularly relished the governor’s “cognac.”
The old man was exceedingly severe in his criticisms on St. Clair’s disastrous campaign against the Indians, in 1791. It so happened, on one occasion, that St. Clair, while governor of the northwestern territory, in passing across the country, called at Dailey’s cabin in Rome, to obtain refreshments for himself and horse. Dailey’s larder, however, was exhausted, and, though full of hospitality, he could do little or nothing for the hungry governor, who was compelled to press on to Athens, where he arrived very much exhausted and very angry. The incident worked on his mind to such a degree, vexing him more the more he dwelt upon it, that he threatened to send Dailey out of the territorydeclaring that he would not have such a shiftless man within his jurisdiction. This, Dailey pretty soon heard of. Not long afterward the governor met Dailey in “Southtown” (Alexander), and thought it a good opportunity to at least administer a sound reprimand for his delinquency as an agriculturist, and commenced with, “Well, Mr. Dailey, how do you succeed in farming at the mouth of Federal creek?” Dailey, assuming an unusual amount of solemn gravity, replied: “Pretty d -d poorly, as you did fighting the Indians; but I think the difference, if any, is on my side, for, being born without a shirt, I have made out to hold my own till the present time, which is an almighty sight better than you did.” The governor let Dailey alone after that.
Elijah Hatch (Judge Hatch) migrated from the eastern part of the state of New York to the northwestern territory, and settled in Rome township in the year 1800. In 1801 he went back and removed his father, Elijah Hatch, Sen., and his mother, with their family, to this township-the former being seventy-two, and the latter seventy-one years old at that time. They came in wagons to the Youghiogheny, in Pennsylvania, where, in connection with others, they procured a flat boat, twenty-five feet long by twelve feet wide, which they loaded with seven horses, one wagon, one carriage, a quantity of hardware and farming utensils, and fifteen persons-men, women, and children. Thus they proceeded down the Youghiogheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers, to the Ohio Company’s purchase. Judge Hatch was the first man who ever drove a team, with a wagon, through the woods, from the mouth of little Hocking to the big Hockhocking. He struck the latter stream two and a half miles below the mouth of Federal creek, about half a mile below where the present ridge road now joins the Hocking road.
Judge Hatch possessed talents above mediocrity, a sound judgment in public affairs, and was an active and influential man in the early settlement of the county. He was appointed judge of the court of common pleas by Governor Tiffin, in i 805, and was afterward appointed or elected several times to that position. He served nine terms in the state legislature, being first elected in 1804, and was appointed by that body one of the first board of trustees of the Ohio university, which position he held for the remainder of his life. He was a man of affable and courteous demeanor, possessing a large fund of anecdote and social qualities, that made him always a welcome guest at pioneer gatherings. He died January 1g, 1849, aged eighty-one years.
Roswell Culver and Joel Spenser settled, with their families, in Rome about 1801. They were brothersin-law of Judge Hatch, having married sisters. The “widow Comfort Crippen,” another of Judge Hatch’s sisters, settled in 1804 on the river, about a mile and a half below the mouth of Federal creek. She brought with her six sons and three daughters. One of the sons was Amos Crippen, long a leading citizen of the county, and the memory of one of the daughters, who was married to A. G. Brown, of Athens, is still fondly cherished by her relatives and friends. Of this large family, brought into Rome in 1804, only one now survives, viz: Mrs. Orinda Branch, of Middleport, Meigs county. One of the sisters, the late Mrs. Olive Currier, relict of Judge Ebenezer Currier, died at her residence in Athens, January 7, 1868, aged eighty-two years.
Elmer Rowell, one of the few surviving pioneers of this period, was born in the county of Middlesex, Massachusetts, in the year 1793, of excellent parentage, the family on both sides of the house being noted for their sterling honesty, intelligence, and patriotism. In 1811 his father, Elijah Rowell, migrated with his little family to the then “far west,” and settled in Rome township, where Mr. Rowell has passed nearly the whole of his peaceful and useful life, and where he continues to reside, respected and beloved by all who know him. In the year 1812 young Rowell, then only nineteen years old, began to teach school, and continued teaching during the winter season for many years. He had eminent fitness for educating the young, and his unwearying fidelity and philosophic methods of instruction gained for him a deserved popularity. In 181 5 he married Esther Culver, daughter of Roswell Culver, who is still living. To them were born six children, of which only three survive, viz Ohiolus, born in Rome township in 1816, now a farmer in the same township, Mrs. Theresa P. Dorr, wife of Edmund Dorr, and William Wirt Rowell. Esquire Rowell has been a farmer during the most of his life. He has always taken a lively interest in the welfare of the community where he dwells, and has filled, at different times, all the township offices and the office of county commissioner.
Eliphalet Case came to Rome township, with his family, in 1808, and brought into cultivation the fine farm on which Professor Miller now lives. Case married a daughter of job Ruter, and was an influential citizen during the early days of the county.
Joseph Wickham settled in Rome in i 805. He was a native of England, and serving on an English vessel when the revolutionary war broke out. He deserted, joined the American army, and served till the close of hostilities. After the war he lived for a time in Vermont. Having married there he set out, in the winter of 1804, for the new state of Ohio, but the roads getting very bad he disposed of his horses and wagon, bought a yoke of cattle and a sled, and came on to “Olean point.” Here he procured a white pine raft, and floated down to the mouth of Hockhocking, and thence came up that river to Rome township, where he lived till his death, May 3, 1833, aged seventy-four years. One of his grandsons, Killian V. Whaley, was a member of the 38th and 39th congress from West Virginia. Another of them, William Reed, is known as one of the enterprising business men of the township.
Timothy Jones, a native of Rhode Island, was born of wealthy parents, graduated at Brown university, became a lawyer and also a graduate in medicine, and held a high social position in Providence, Rhode Island, where he lived. In 1805, when near fifty years old, his wife having died, he relinquished the comforts of settled life and removed to Ohio. He arrived in Rome township in that year and buried himself in the forests of Federal creek. He was a man of considerable scientific research. During the revolutionary war he obtained the first premium, offered by the legislature of Massachusetts, for the manufacture of saltpeter. His descendants possess the certificate of his admission to the bar in Providence, in 1786. Dressed in the garb of a pioneer working on his farm on Federal creek, he presented to those who knew his history and character an interesting study. Some time after coming here he married a second wife-the widow Polly Hewitt, a daughter of Ebenezer Barrows. The Rev. T. F. Jones is a son of theirs. An aged citizen of Rome, who knew Dr. Jones, says, “in the forest he was a hunter-in the log cabin parlor a perfect Chesterfield.”
Leonard Jewett in 1804 or 1805 settled at the mouth of Federal creek on a fine tract of land which lay chiefly on the south side of the Hockhocking. He sold out very soon to Mr. John Johnson and removed to Athens. Mr. Johnson married Miss Sarah Wyatt, a daughter of Deacon Joshua Wyatt, of Ames, and a woman of rare excellence. By their industry and good management they in a few years opened up one of the best farms in the county. Mr. Johnson was a “close dealer,” and so tenacious of his rights as to be thought by some a hard man; but he was benevolent at heart, and would rather give away a dollar than be cheated of a cent. Many a destitute emigrant or needy family has had timely relief at his hands. He was the father of Dr. Wm. P. Johnson, the present representative of the county in the state legislature, and whose character as a man, as a physician and a public officer is too well known in his native county to require comment. Mrs. John Johnson, who was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, in 1786, and came to Athens county with her father’s family when she was fourteen years old, died December 26, 1859.
Daniel Stewart was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, November 18, 1762. When fifteen years old he enlisted as a soldier in the revolutionary army, and served till the close of the war. He then removed to Sussex county, New Jersey, where he engaged successfully in business for several years and accumulated some means. In 1801 he exchanged his property in New Jersey for two shares in the Ohio Company’s purchase and closed out his business with a view to moving west. Colonel William Stewart, a son who accompanied his father to Ohio, says
“In October, 1802, father returned to the old farm to rig out a team for emigration to the northwestern territory. The preparations having been completed, a day and hour were set for starting. At the appointed time, 8 o’clock A. M., about a hundred friends and neighbors from all quarters came flocking in to bid us farewell, and I shall never forget the scene that followed. They all thought we were going so far beyond the world’s boundary that we should never be heard of again. The hubbub lasted till 5 o’clock in the afternoon before father could say good bye with a strong voice, and then we started. Went three miles and camped for the night. The next morning we moved on. The teams were heavily loaded and the roads tolerable till we approached the Alleghany mountains when they became terribly rough and dangerous. Crossing the mountains the family were afraid to ride in the wagons and, therefore, walked this part of the way. At the very steep descents father would cut saplings, fasten them top foremost to the tail of the wagon and then go down, depending on the saplings as a brake. The journey was a long, wearisome and dangerous one, but we finally reached the Hockhocking in safety.”
This was in the winter. Mr. Stewart settled on a fine tract of land on the river about a mile above the mouth of Federal creek. Possessing considerable means, great energy, and uncommon business talent, he soon had the best farm in the county. As early as i 8 10 he had an orchard of three thousand bearing fruit trees-two thousand peach, and one thousand apple trees -at that time probably the largest orchard in the state. As his means increased so did his benevolence and public spirit. In business he left no points unguarded, and no man could defraud or overreach him with impunity; but if he husbanded closely he gave liberally, and was always accessible to the claims of the really needy, and of educational and religious movements. He was one of the first two justices of the peace in the township (Elijah Hatch being the other), and acted as such, altogether, more than twenty years. He was county commissioner for many years, and was appointed by the legislature one of the early appraisers of the college lands, Captain Joshua Wyatt and John Brown being the other two. Few men have left more decided marks on the history of the county, in its social and business affairs, than Mr. Stewart. An active member of the Methodist church for sixty years of his life he always contributed liberally to the support of its ministers and the erection of churches. He died February 20, 1858.
Mr. Stewart had fourteen children, viz : Andrew, William, Charles, John, Ezra, George, Lois, Sarah, Mary, Lucinda, Harriet, Alexander, Daniel B., and Hiram. One of these, the Rev. John Stewart, has been a traveling preacher in the Methodist church for fifty years. Another, Ezra Stewart, married Harriet, daughter of Esquire Henry Bartlett, in 1826, and spent his life in the mercantile business in Athens. He was a man of wonderful energy and endurance, and his unusual capacity for business is well remembered. He died in Athens, November 28, 1858. William Stewart came to this county with his father’s family in 1802, and lived here nearly forty years. When seventeen years old he was elected a lieutenant in the militia, and was captain of a company raised here in 1812, which expected to be but was not called into the service.
Some years later he was appointed a colonel. The contract for erecting the Ohio university building was awarded to him in 1817, and several years later the contract for building the county jail. In 1840 he removed to Lee county, Iowa. In 1847 he was elected superintendent of the common schools in that state, and during that and the next year organized one hundred and five school districts. He has held other public offices in Iowa.
Daniel B. Stewart, son of Daniel, was born on the old Stewart farm in Rome township, September 26, 1812. The first school he remembers and which he attended was kept by Jabez Bowman, on the hill about a quarter of a mile below the old homestead. This school was supported by contributions of its patrons. As he grew up Mr. Stewart developed a great fondness for machinery, and was never happier than when managing or handling it. He finally obtained his father’s consent that he should go into the mill at Savannah as manager. Here he succeeded admirably, and without any instruction. After he had run this mill about two years he bought it of his father, run it two years more and then sold it to James E. and William T. Hatch. The next two years he lived in Meigs county, engaging in the mercantile business at Rutland with his brother Alexander. Returning to this county he started a store at Coolville, and also bought the saw mill on the river two miles below Savannah. This was in 1836. In 1837 the mill was burned. Mr. Stewart rebuilt it in 1838, putting in at that time the first patent Parker wheel used on the Hockhocking. In 1842 he added a grist mill, and in 1844 a woolen factory to the property. In 1864 he sold these mills, and in 1867 removed to the town of Athens, where he owns the old Miles or Gregory mill, and has added to it a woolen factory. Though not among the largest this factory is one of the best arranged and most complete in the country, and may challenge comparison with any of its size to be found east or west. It is capable of carding and spinning three hundred pounds of wool daily, and when the looms are all in, can make six hundred yards of cloth a day.
Mr. Stewart has been one of the most energetic and useful business men in the county. At one time he was the owner of four mills on the Hockhocking, and part of the time also cultivated five farms in Rome township, raising as high as four thousand five hundred bushels of wheat in one year. He served as justice of the peace twenty-one years, and in 1860 was chosen presidential elector for this district.
Alexander Stedman, a native of Vermont, and by profession an architect, settled in Rome township in 1804, having previously lived for nearly two years at Athens. In 1805 he was appointed one of the judges of the court of common pleas for Athens county and held the position for several years. Soon after coming here he married the widow Comfort Crippen. One of his sons, Eli Stedman, was a minister and somewhat celebrated as a pulpit orator. Another, Levi Stedman, was for many years a prominent citizen of this county, serving as county commissioner, etc. On the organization of Meigs county, in 1818, he moved thither, and was one the first common pleas judges in that county. Another son, Bial, was an associate judge of Washington county. Judge Stedman was a man of excellent judgment and of commanding influence among the pioneers. Some of his descendants are still living in the county. A grandson, Frederic Stedman, was elected sheriff of the county in 1861, but left his office and entered the Union army as captain of a company of infantry.
Amos Miller, only son of Judge Abel Miller, was born in Athens county, July 27, 1807. The early years of his life were passed on his father’s farm in Canaan. At the age of sixteen he entered the Ohio university, and graduated in the class of 1830. In 1831 he was elected sheriff of the county, which office he held for two terms. In 1832 he was elected by the legislature a member of the board of trustees of the Ohio university, which position he has held continuously ever since.
In 1840 he removed to Rome township (having previously purchased the Case farm), where, in 1841, he established the Miller seminary, which, from a very small beginning, has become one of the most prosperous and useful academies in this section of country. Professor Miller, though not an aged man, may be classed among the pioneers.
Captain Hopson Beebe was born in Connecticut, February 17, 1749, was a soldier of the revolutionary war, and settled in Rome township in 1804, where he resided till his death in 1836. One of his sons, the venerable Mr. Charles Beebe, now in his eighty-third year, resided on the “old farm ” until quite recently. He now lives with Mrs. J. W. Johnson in this township. Doctor Wm. Beebe, another son, was an assistant surgeon in General Tupper’s brigade in the war of 1812. After the war he settled in Belpre, and practiced medicine there for the rest of his life. His son, Dr. Wm. Beebe (grandson of Captain Hopson Beebe), is now a practicing physician in Barlow, Washington county.
The youngest son, Peter Beebe, was an active and successful business man, and for several years one of the township trustees. He died in the prime of life in 1849.
Thomas Welch, removed from the northern part of the state and settled in Rome township in 1826. He remained here several years, living part of the time at the mills and part of the time on the “Case farm,” which he bought and cultivated. About 1828 he sold the mills to his two sons, Thomas and John Welch, the latter of whom is further noticed in connection with Athens township.
Peter Grosvenor, born at Pomfret, Windham county, Connecticut, January 25, 1794, removed to Athens county and settled in Rome township in May, 1838. His father, Colonel Thomas Grosvenor, served with distinction through the revolutionary war, part of the time on the staff of General Warren and of General Washington, and was wounded at the battle of Bunker Hill. Peter Grosvenor served in the war of 1812. He was among the first to clear up and make an improvement on the present road from the Canaan line to Federal creek, the northwestern part of Rome, where he settled, being at that time very sparsely populated. He died September 29, 1859, on the farm where he first settled. Mr. Grosvenor was a man of uncompromising integrity and an excellent citizen. Four of his sons served in the Union army during the war of the rebellion. Edward Grosvenor entered as a private, and for good conduct was commissioned a captain in the 92d regiment O. V. I. He died while on the march with Sherman’s army ” to the sea.” Daniel A. Grosvenor served as a private in the 3d Ohio regiment, and John M. served in the quartermaster’s department.
Thomas Grosvenor, a brother of Peter, settled near him in 1839. He lived in Rome about twenty years and then removed to Washington county, where he died April 9, 1867, aged eighty-one years. All of his sons, five in number, enlisted in the Union army at the beginning of the war of the rebellion. Of the nine sons of the two Grosvenor families who volunteered only four lived to return.
William S. Doan came from New England to Washington county in 1806, to Athens county in 1813, and settled in Rome about 1820. He was an industrious farmer and a good citizen. Several of his descendants now live in the township. Mr. Charles Doan is a grandson of his.
Back to: Rome, Athens County, Ohio History
Back to: Athens County, Ohio