At the session of the Ohio General Assembly, which convened on the first Monday of December, 1839, three Commissioners were appointed, by a joint resolution, to review and permanently locate the seats of justice of Williams and Lucas Counties. These Commissioners were Joseph Bums, of Coshocton; James Culbertson, of Perry, and Joseph McCutchen, of Crawford. Since the organization of Williams County, the seat of justice had been at Defiance; but that place, geographically, was a border town, and difficult and expensive of approach to the growing population of the interior, and all the northern, and most of the eastern and western townships. The location chosen was a central one. Towns, however, several years previously, had commenced building up at Williams Center and Pulaski, and both were strong competitors for the county seat. John A. Byran, of Columbus, then Auditor of State, had donated the ground to the county in consideration that the seat of justice be permanently established upon it; and the first business, after the site had been fixed, was to secure a civil engineer to survey and plat the town, and Miller Arrowsmith was employed for this work. The surveyor and assistants, with a foreknowledge that they would have no accommodation for bed and board at the place, appeared on the ground with a supply of tents and provisions, and entered upon their duties. After the completion of the survey, Mr. Arrowsmith named the town Byran, in honor of its founder. The following explanatory notes and references appear upon the margin of the plat:
“Situated on the southwest quarter of Section 17, Town 6 north, Range 8 east, in the county of Williams and State of Ohio. The lots are four rods wide, and eight roads long. A stone is planted on the northeastern corner of the public square. The streets cross at right angles, and Main and High streets are 100 feet wide, and all other streets sixty-six feet wide. The alleys are twenty feet wide. The public square, together with the two lots incorporated within the square, are donated to the county for public buildings by the proprietors of the town-the numbers of the two lots being left blank on the plat. John A. Bryan, for himself, and as agent and attorney for the American Land Company.”
And on the right hand margin of the plat occurs the following record:
The State or Ohio
February 14, 1840 I, Miller Arrowsmith, County Surveyor of the county and State aforesaid, do hereby certify the within plat and field notes to be correct of the town of Bryan, as get forth therein.
Miller Akrowsmith, County Surveyor of Williams County, Ohio.
The State or Ohio
I certify that on this 14th day of September, 1840, personally appeared before me John A. Bryan, to me personally known, and acknowledged the due execution of the within instrument or deed.
E. D. Potter,
President Judge Williams County Common Pleas, in Thirteenth Judicial Circuit.
The above town plat of Bryan was received for record September 24, 1840.
C. L. Noble, Recorder.
Additions to Original Plat of Bryan
It may be well here to note the several additions which have been made to the town:
- March 9, 1851, the late Dr. John Paul platted an addition to Bryan on “a tract situated as follows: The south half of the southeast quarter of Section 18, Town 6 north of Range 3 east, Williams County,” known as Paul’s Addition.
- October 7, 1852, George W. Wilson added part of “the west half of the northwest quarter of Section 20, Town 6 north of Range 3 east,” to Bryan, and known as Wilson’s First Addition. October 14, 1852,
- David Fairfield laid out an addition on the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 18, Town 6 north of Range 3 east.
- December 10, 1853, Joshua Dobbs made an addition to the town, “being the west half of east half of the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 18, Town 6 north, Range 3 east,” known as Dobbs’ First Addition.
- May 29, 1854, Joshua Dobbs had a second plat made adjoining Wilson’s First Addition. July 17, 1854,
- A. P. Edgerton and William Trevitt made an addition to Bryan on a part of Section 17, Town 6 north of Range 3 east, adjoining the railway company’s station grounds.
- July 21, 1854, John W. Evans, of Fort Wayne, Ind., laid out an addition to the town of Bryan, consisting of six lots.
- March 24, 1855, Richard H. McClelan’s Addition was surveyed. It consisted of five lots.
- January 13, 1855, Leonard Naftzger made an addition to Bryan of lands situated on the east half of the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 18.
- March 30, 1855, Jacob Miller made an addition of eight lots.
- August 21, 1855, Alexander Conning’s Addition was surveyed by Seth B. Hyatt, Surveyor of Williams County, and same date, August 21, 1855, John W. Pollock made his addition.
- April 20, 1857, Joshua Dobbs made his third addition.
- June 3, 1859, Ezra Smith made his addition, and June 13, of the same year he made another addition.
- July 22, 1864, Dr. William Trevitt, of Columbus, made his first addition. October 20, 1865,
- Albert M. Pratt and John W. Nelson recorded their addition to Bryan.
- March 4, 1867, A. P. Edgerton’s first division was recorded.
- May 13, 1867, Edgerton’s Second Addition.
- April 11, 1868, Gen. William Stough’s Addition.
- July 27, 1868. John A. Garver and Andrew W. Killits recorded their addition to the town.
- January 1, 1869, M. Harris’ Addition was recorded.
- June 23, 1869, A. T. Bement’s Addition was recorded.
- November 13, 1869, Trevitt’s Second Addition appears on the record.
- March 17, 1870, was recorded “plat of John Will’s Fountain Lawn Addition to Bryan, Ohio.”
- April 18, 1870, Cooney & Lyder’s.
- May 24, 1870, Bostater’s.
- September, 3, 1870, Garfield’s Addition were recorded.
- February 27, 1874, Baker’s Second Addition, and
- October 19, 1874, Trevitt’s Third Addition were recorded.
- January 14. 1875, Myers’ Addition, and
- August 12, 1875, Nancy A. Shoufs were recorded.
- May 31, 1877, Pratt & Nelson’s Addition of outlots.
- April 16, 1878, William H. Lockhart’s Addition of outlots were recorded.
Bryan Ohio Burial Grounds
The places of interment for the early dead of Bryan were at Pulaski, Williams Centre, or at other more convenient but temporary locations on private property, but not intended as permanent abodes for the remains of those who had gone before. Population being sparse, and the region healthy, there were few deaths. But in the early part of 1841, and some months after the town was platted, a place of sepulture, then a wild but pleasant locality, was selected, which it was believed that no wants of commerce or demands for residence places, would ever covet, and where the ashes of deceased kindred and friends would forever rest in consecrated ground.
The place chosen was an elevated one, on the south side of Lynn Run, and many feet above high-water mark of that stream. Portland Street now passes on the west aide of these grounds, and they were nearly west of the place where Mr. Warner’s flour-mills and Mr. Halm’s brewery are now established. But commerce, however, as in almost every like instance, adopts the almost cruel logic of Jefferson that “the earth belongs to the living,” and that no power is able to resist its invasion of any soil, however sacred, when greed requires it for its uses; and after manufacturing and residence wants clamored at the gateways of this first burial place, two new cemeteries, the Fountain Grove, south of Bryan, in Pulaski Township, and Brown’s Cemetery, two miles northwest of Bryan, in Centre Township, were established, and the remains of nearly all the dead were exhumed and transferred to one or the other of those places. But some had no surviving friends, and their bodies yet rest in the old grounds where they were originally deposited. Thomas Wyatt’s body was first buried there, and his ashes have never been disturbed. The second interment was a daughter of Thomas Shorthill, and from some cause her remains were suffered to continue in the old grounds.
Fountain Grove Cemetery Association
The first meeting for the purpose of effecting such an organization was held on the 26th of January, 1855, when Messrs. John Will, David M. Crall, Levi Schlott, Robert Pitcairn, Alvira Spencer and William Yates were elected a Board of Trustees, and Albert R. Patterson, chosen Clerk. At a meeting of the trustees, held February 2, 1855, Robert Pitcairn was elected President of the Board, and by-laws were adopted. William A. Stevens was chosen Treasurer. Several years seem to have elapsed before there was a regular sexton employed to have charge of the cemetery. The first appointed was O. L. Brown, and the present one is Matthias Blossing. Both these gentlemen were competent to discharge faithfully the duties conferred upon them, and they have rendered the grounds highly attractive. The principal officers now, in addition to the sexton, are: John W. Pollock, President; Dr. A. L. Snyder, Executive Trustee; A. C. Dillman, Secretary. Mr. Youse states that John Will was most prominent in the selection and supervision of the present cemetery.