A Lost Town: Smithtown Ohio

The first town laid out in Guernsey County, rightfully speaking, was on the old Zane trace, five miles to the east of Washington, on the northwest half of section 19, township 2, range 1. The proprietor, Joseph Smith, called the town Frankford, but the records of Muskingum County, to which the lands of this county then belonged, show the plat of a town named Frankby and Frankley, recorded on September 13, 1805; this makes the place twenty-three days older than Washington. Who Joseph Smith was and what became of him, no one seems to know. There being no record of the patent, it cannot be told whether he entered or squatted on this land, but he evidently had some notion of building a town at the point named in the platting, for lot No. 5 was designated as having been “reserved for courthouse purposes.” Lot No. 13 was designated for a jail and “north spring, on lot No. 29, for the free use of the public square and all the commons on the south side of the same.” But his hopes were soon to be blighted; the first cabin erected there was for a tavern, and whisky was so cheap that the advantages of the free spring water were not duly appreciated. All the pioneer townsite man received was the name “Smithtown,” by which the site was ever after known. As late as 1870, a traveler named Cummings, who kept a diary, says therein: “August 8 — The stage being only to go fifteen miles, I left Cambridge on foot; the first five miles were excellent road, over a long, very high range of hills, without a house, to Beymertown — twelve cabins, four being taverns, and one a blacksmith shop. Four and a half miles farther no inhabitants; the road is still good, but is leading over several high, short and steep ridges, which generally run from north to south. Then passing a cabin and farm, in a half mile I came to Frankford or Smithtown, where I breakfasted. This is a small village or hamlet of eight or ten cabins, some of which, as well as several in the neighborhood, are inhabited by families from Peekskill, New York.”

A record shows that in 1807, Smith and his wife conveyed lot No. 20 to John D. Seiman for twenty-seven dollars and fifty cents. Other lots sold at forty dollars each.

In 1809, Andrew Moore of New Castle, Delaware, became a resident of Frankford and owned a tavern that became somewhat noted. In 1819, Gen. Robert B. Moore married the daughter of Jacob Gomber at this tavern. He took his bride to her new home, accompanied by a large company of friends from Cambridge, who rode on horseback. William H. Farrar wrote about this many years later and it is “good history” today. In 1814, Smith and his wife sold, for a consideration of two thousand dollars, the quarter section of land on which Frankford was platted to Jacob Gomber.

In 1846, at the October term of court, this platting was vacated and its history ended. Its once-noted hostelry, which fed and rested many a weary traveler, has long since disappeared. Its streets and alleys have been converted into a cow pasture, and its courthouse and jail sites appropriated to the growing of corn and potatoes.


Sarchet, Cyrus P. B. (Cyrus Parkinson Beatty). History of Guernsey County, Ohio. Vol. 1, B.F. Bowen & Company, 1911.

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