Prominent among the early citizens of York was Mr. James Knight. He was born in Pulborough, England, and emigrated to the United States when thirty-two years old, came immediately to York township, and settled here in July, 1821. He became at once thoroughly identified with the interests of the township, and especially of Nelsonville, and during his residence here was one of the most active and influential citizens, participating earnestly in the local improvements and social movements of the day, such as the building of bridges, school and meeting houses, the establishment of Sunday and day schools, etc. He kept public house in Nelsonville for many years, and was very assiduous in imparting information about the Hockhocking valley to travelers. He aided largely in the construction of the first bridge over the Hockhocking, at Nelsonville, in 1827, and also in the erection of a second one in 1832, and of the bridge across Monday creek, three miles below Nelsonville, in 1832. These bridges were mainly built on individual subscriptions, paid, in many instances, in grain and labor, and the original subscription papers, with the plans of the work and the written contracts therefor, were found in complete order among Mr. Knight’s papers after his death.
In 1832 he prepared, by request, a circular calling attention to the importance of an immediate improvement of the Hockhocking valley by a canal from Lancaster to the Ohio river, which was sent to leading men throughout southern Ohio, and which contributed much toward the chartering of the “Hocking Valley canal ” in the spring of 1839 and its construction soon after. Mr. Knight died August 26, 1836, aged fortyseven years. The following memoranda are in his handwriting
“Mr. Edward Redman, Mrs. Redman, Harriet Redman, arrived 26th May, 1832.
“Charles Wheeler arrived July 19th.
“Captain Hale, with Samuel Older, wife and eight children; Thomas Older, William Thaire, wife and children; James Smart, wife and two children; William Saunders, wife and four children; Barberry, wife and children; George Tribe and wife; George Hook and Ned Smithers arrived at Nelsonville July 30th, 1832, at i r o’clock in the forenoon.
“Peter Smithers and wife and children at Pittsburg. Charles Southerton, wife and children at Sunday creek. Howick, ditto. Captain Hale stayed fifteen days at Nelsonville. Graffham and family arrived August 21st, 1832. Miss Courtauld arrived November 20, 1834.”
L. D. Poston was born in Hampshire county, Virginia, March 29, 1812, and came to Athens county in September, 1830. For about two years after coming here he worked out by the month, then engaged in buying and selling cattle till October, 1835, when he settled in Nelsonville in the mercantile business. The letter of credit, on which he purchased his first stock of goods, was given him by J. N. and J. H. Norton, and Ezra and William Stewart of Athens. In 1852 Mr. Poston began extensive coal operations which he still continues, owning some of the most valuable coal lands and mines in the township. He is a man of strict integrity, fine business capacity, and an excellent citizen. By his own efforts and attention to business he has become one of the wealthiest men in the county.
Samuel Robbins was one of the early settlers of York. He was born in Massachusetts in 1771, came to Athens county in 1819, and to Nelsonville in 1822, where he lived the rest of his life. He built and carried on the first tannery in this part of the county. He died September 21, 1832. His descendants are mostly living in York.
Solomon Roberts, a native of New York, came to Athens county in 1819 and settled in Nelsonville in March, 1821. He found here less than half a dozen cabins and one frame house. Coal was not known to exist about Nelsonville for several years after this date. Mr. Roberts being a blacksmith got his coal from Minker’s run and Monday creek, for some time after he came here. Prior to the opening of the canal, samples of the Nelsonville coal were sent in wagons to Lancaster, Circleville, and other towns for blacksmithing, and its quality fully tested and approved. Mr. Roberts and his son, Mr. W. P. Roberts, are well known in Nelsonville.
Lewis Steenrod was born in a block house at Wheeling, Virginia, in June, 1791, came to Ohio in 1805, and resided in Muskingum county about eight miles east of Zanesville for over forty years. In 1850 he removed with his family to Nelsonville where he died December 10, 1860. “Father” Steenrod, as he was called, was a man of benevolent heart and gentle life. He was a member of the Baptist church, having united with that organization in 1812. Some of his descendants remain in the county.
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