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AMERIPEDIA™ - OAKFIELD, Perry County Ohio: Amazing History and Story!

OAKFIELD:

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

    In the settlement of our county, the church in every community was the first institution to be organized; the school was the second. The result was that the school and the church were usually built near each other.

    Most often the church building was used for the school with the minister being the school teacher, and more often the school-house served in the double capacity. The primitive school-houses of the woods.

FIRST BELONGED TO INDIANS:

    The White Man's Foot — By the Treaty of Greenville in 1795 the Indians gave up their claim to the land that is now in Perry county and after the year 1800 but few were seen within our boundaries.

    They were then usually straggling parties who returned to their ancient hunting-grounds as if loath to leave. But the "white man's foot" had come and the days of the "children of the forest" were numbered.


OAKFIELD BELONGED TO THE FRENCH!

    Did it ever occur to you that at one time the Flag of France waved over Perry County? That the Lilies of France kept watch over our silent forests from where they were planted on the steeple of some mission house or over the door of a French trading station?

    The claim of France to this territory was based upon the fact of her explorations. While neither England nor her colonies had ever given their consent to France utilizing the rivers and trade of the vast region yet France was in actual possession of it.

    As "possession is nine points of the law" we must consider that at one time, if there had been white people here they would have really been subjects of the French king.

    France had an undisputed title to the region. They were the firstto send Jesuit missionaries who wandered through the unbroken forests, dressed in their simple garb, exploring the rivers, and building mission chapels, from whose roofs went out to the natives.

      "The sound of the church-going bell. The valleys and rocks never heard, Never sighed at the sound of a knell.Nor smiled when a Sabbath appeared."

    The haughty commandant at Quebec to the demand carried by Washington in 1753.

      "We claim the country on the Ohio by virtue of the discoveries of LaSalle, and will not give it to the English.

      Our orders are to make prisoners of every Englishman found trading in the Ohio Valley."

    On 1769 George Washington floated down the Ohio to the mouth of the Great Kanawha to select 200,000 acres of land for his soldiers, or their widows, who had served with him in the French and Indian war. This is as near as he ever came to our county.

    The Ordinance of 1785 further provided that, '' There shall be reserved for the United States out of every township the four lots, being numbered 8, 11, 26, 29 for future sale.

    There shall be reserved the lot No. 16 of every township, for the maintenance of public schools within the said township ; also one- third part of all gold, silver, lead and copper mines, to be sold, or otherwise disposed of as Congress shall hereafter direct."

    In Perry county none of these reservations were made, with the exception of Section 16. In the Ohio Company's Purchase, Section 29 was kept for the support of a minister, and was known as Ministerial Lands.


BAPTIST SETTLE OAKFIELD FIRST!

    A Baptist congregation existed for some years at Oakfield. It is worthy of being listed as the pioneer. In 1814 they organized and built a church, but the congregation was small.

    There is still a Baptist Church in Oakfield today, doing well, post AD-2010. There is also a Baptist Cemetery, though it is NOT the one closest to the present Baptist Church. (The one across the street is Presbyterian, of which there is not a nearby Presbyterian Congregation).


    A Disciple Church existed at Oakfield a few years subsequent to 1848. It is no longer there


OAKFIELD EARLY PROSPEROUS!

    'OAKFIELD', is a town that once bid fair to succeed and enjoyed for a time quite a lucrative trade! It was platted in 1838 by Job Tharp. It was the social as well as the commercial center of the neighborhood.

    Oakfield is located on the water-shed of the Hocking and Muskingum rivers

    A PROPHECY FULFILLED.

    Buckeye Blossoms, published in 1871 by Mrs. M. E. Porter, has this to say of Perry County.

    " This little county (Perry) comparatively unknown, is destined at no distant day to become a central attraction. Coal and iron are found in abundance and of superior excellence ; and railroads are being made and companies organized for the purpose of mining these extensively.

    New Lexington on the Cincinnati and Zanesville Railroad is the county-seat. Oakfield and Somerset are very fine towns."

    At the end of the first half century of the county's- existence there were within its bounds the following post offices:

      >> New Lexington,

      >> Somerset,

      >> Buckeye Cottage (Saltillo),

      >> Rehoboth,

      >> Thornville,

      >> Mt. Perry,

      >> Sego,

      >> McLuney,

      >> Porterville,

      >> Whippstown,

      >> Oakfield,

      >> Maxville,

      >> Crossenville,

      >> East Rushcreek (now Junction City)

      >> Straitsville

OAKFIELD-MOXAHALA RAILROAD TUNNEL

    Passing south of Moxahala the T. & O. C. R. R. has made through it the longest tunnel in Perry county. The dividing ridge leaves the county at Porterville. It is 114 miles long and passes through nine townships: Thorn, Hopewell, Reading, Clayton, Harrison, Pike, Saltlick, Pleasant (Moxahala) and Bearfield.

    Its average elevation is about 450 feet above Lake Erie and about 1,000 feet above sea level.


    Elevations Above Sea Level. Feet.

      Corning, Depot 731

      McLuney, Depot 905

      Moxahala, Depot 821

      New Lexington. Depot 856

      New Lexington Court House 946

      New Straitsville, Depot 792

      Oakfield, 1050 (at the old Township House)

      Oakfield, 1240 (at top of distant hill)

      Oakfield, 1440 (top of tower on distant hill)

      Rendville, Depot 742

      Summit LaRue's Gap, Shawnee 909

      Somerset, Court House 1159

      Maxville. Limestone 776

      Roseville. Depot 783

      Gore (near county line) 703

      Monday Creek Station (on county line 689)

      Winona Furnace (on county line) 743

      Great Coal Vein at New Straitsville 870


    Louis Road (Rt 312) and Cave

      Among the bits of Natural scenery in our county is Louis Cave, in Pleasant Township. The wildness and picturesqueness of the scene is in sharp contrast to the surrounding country.

      Here a very small stream, where water drops from a falls, has eroded the rocks to an amazing degree, from 30' deep to well over 130' long.

      These rocks served at one time as a shelter for hunting parties of Indians. Under one of the ledges of rock can yet be seen the mortar in which they cracked their hominy. This locality is now a favorite resort for picnic parties.

      Later it was said the local farmers hid their horse here from soldiers during the Civil War and the raids through this area.


    Mastodon and 17 Pound Teeth!

      The fact that the remains of many Mastodons have been found in Ohio, leads us to the opinion that Perry county must have known about these immense mountains of flesh. After the Ice Age, a dense growth of vegetation sprang up.

      The Mastodon being herbivbrous would naturally seek for places where food was abundant. Northern Perry would be of especial alure to him. The land was swampy; the vegetation was of quick growth, thus making it toothsome. It is in such places that the remains have been found.

      We may be sure that one of his kind once browsed in Thorn township, near the Big Swamp. Parts of his skeleton have been found along the Creek.

      Eleven of his teeth, weighing from ten to seventeen pounds each, adorn the private museums of their finders.

      A part of a rib, measuring about forty inches has been picked up in the alluvial plain of the Moxahala Creek. As the stream changes its course, other parts of the frame of this ancient Perry county citizen may be unearthed.

      Since the above was written, the author has learned that the tooth of one of these mammoth creatures was picked up in the neighborhood of Chapel Hill.


    Forest and Animals

      The virgin forests of Perry county afforded ample haunts for all animals characteristic of this latitude. The woods were full of them.

        Buffalo, rambled the hills and field.

        The bear was unquestionably the undisputed monarch of the wilds, as he ambled over our hills and valleys.

        The panther was a close second in point of rule, as he crouched on the limb of a giant oak, ready to spring upon the timid deer when the latter bounded through the underbrush.

        Wildcats were so plentiful, they became the "mascot" of the Moxahala School.

        The wolf made the night hideous with his cry.

        The smaller animals, such as the fox, squirrel, rabbit, raccoon and opossum, fairly swarmed.

        Wild turkeys made this their feeding ground.

        Prairie chickens nested and brooded in the tall grass.

        Pigeons in countless numbers roosted in the tree tops and scores of varieties of other birds twittered and sang and made gay the forest world.

        In the creeks whole "fleets" of ducks were convoyed by their leader, while in the dark underbrush lay

        the deadly rattlesnake ready to sound his warning,

        or the copperhead to strike his fangs into the intruder.

        The Indian had not destroyed them all and long after the white man came they were far from being scarce.


      The Biggest Sassafras tree ever measured:

        The Big Sassafras. — What is said to be the largest sassafras tree in Ohio, grows in Section 13 Pike township, near the Dean schoolhouse on the Moxahala road. Its shape is more that of an oak or chestnut than a sassafras, which usually grows tall and crooked.

        This tree has a girth of almost 15 feet.


      Buffalo "Trails"

        Buffalo "Trails" — The first road makers in our country were the buffaloes. Their immense bodies, together with their countless numbers served to beat a path through the forest. Their routes were along the hill-tops and the water divides. The Indian, true to Nature's instinct would doubtless have selected the same course.

        The Monongahela Trail — Perry county was traversed by an Indian "trail." However, before the Wyandots, The principal "trail" in the county was the Monongahela of the Shawnees.

        It connected the Shawnee towns on the Scioto with the Monongahela Valley. It was the war path, or "through" route between the Shawnee nation and the nearest settlement of whites.

        At this place the whites built a block-house (1790). The inmates were one day surprised and twelve persons massacred.

        From this place the "trail" crossed the ridges till it struck Wolf's creek, which it followed to its source, which is at Porterville on the boundary between Perry and Morgan counties. Here it followed the "divide" between Jonathan and Sunday Creek and between Rush Creek and Monday Creek throughout the county.

        The road now known as the Marietta and Lancaster is in part located on the old Monongahela Trail. Later it was known as the Wyandot Trail.


      Sliazi'nee Run Trail —

        From this main "trail" there were several subordinates or "loops'' that would lead out and then gradually merge back again. The object was to scour the country more completely.

        There was one of these tributaries that left the main over in Morgan county somewhere and reached our county in the neighborhood south of Corning, crossed Sundaycreek, went up through Monroe township following the stream known as Indian Creek west to its source,

        by way of Buckingham and Hemlock, passed through the low "gap" (Now the road from Corning to Hemlock past the Miller High school that so easily floods - thus the name ""Low Gap") to Shawnee where they had a village.

        The stream at Shawnee is known as Shawnee Run and the town and stream stand as monuments to the redman in Perry county. It is plain why this route was selected.


      Flint Ridge Trail

        — This trail left the main route in the neighborhood of Porterville and struck for licking County.


      Moxahala Trail

        — This trail crossed the Muskingum at-Zanesville and made its way through the county, by Sego, Somerset and Rushville to Lancaster.

        Zane's Trace approximately followed this pathway. It was however not well defined. The Indian hunter leaving the established beat would naturally take take high ridge between Jonathan and Rushcreek. It must "be regarded as a loop from the main Scioto-Beaver Trail.


      The Moxahala Creek

        Jonathan's Creek - or even better - the Moxahala Creek was favorite grounds for the Indian hunter. The fact that it ploughs its way through limestone and offers frequent fording places, may be one reason for making it the crossing of the numerous trails.





        Native Indian Prophecy

        "I beheld, too, in that vision All the secrets of the future.

        Of the distant days that shall be. I beheld the westward marches Of the unknown crowded nations. All the land was full of people.

        Restless, struggling, toiling, striving, Speaking many tongues, yet feeling. But one heartbeat in their bosoms.

        In the woodlands rang their axes. Smoked their towns in all their valleys. Over all the lakes and rivers Rushed their great canoes of thunder.

        Then a darker, drearier vision Passed before me, vague and cloud-like;

        I beheld our nations scattered, All forgetful of my counsels, Weakened, warring with each other;

        Saw the remnants of our people Sweeping westward, wild and woeful,

        Like the cloud-rack of a tempest, Like the withered leaves of autumn."

        END:

        The Last of his Race — It seems that the very last Indian seen in our county was killed by the white settlers, in the neighborhood of New Lexington, after that village had been laid out.

        He, it appears, lingered about the place for some time, and when he left was followed by the white man, to the vicinity of Brier Ridge, at the T. & O. C. Tunnel, where he was shot.

        It might be well at this juncture to read Miss Francis' " Lone Indian " which we used to read at school out of the McGuffey Sixth Reader.

        Churches!

        The first settlers of Perry county were mostly Protestants. In the north where the German element predominated, there were mostly Lutherans, German Reformed and Dunkers. In the central and southern parts of the county where the people were mostly Virginians the Methodists and Baptists were most numerous.

        The church organizations have always been the social centers in our county. The people who settled Perry county were very religiously inclined. Soon after the first settlers, the missionary came, not to convert, but to gather the people into congregations.

        To speak of all the church communities in this county would demand more space than the size of this book will justify.

        Only a short time elapsed after the settlement at Overmeyer town, till there came Rev. William Foster a Lutheran missionary from Pennsylvania. The first sermon ever preached in the woods of Perry county was in what is now the orchard owned by the late George Weisman.


        1805:
        In 1805, at New Reading, the first congregation in the county, and the first of the Lutheran Church in the state was organized. This organization is yet in existence.


        1806:
        The next year, 1806, Zion's church of Thorn township was begun. This was erected by the' Lutheran and German Reformed congregations, and is the second oldest in the county.

        The Reformed minister was Rev. John King, who settled in the county in 1803. He was the first, therefore, to permanently locate here for Rev. Foster was a traveling missionary.


        1807:
        About a mile and a half east of Mt. Perry is the United Presbyterian Church on Jonathan Creek. This denomination was the third to organize a church in the county. They date from 1807. Their services were first held in a school house, or, if weather permitted, in a tent. The first pastor was Rev. Abraham Craig.


        1809: The services were, at the beginning, transient, both barns and houses being utilized.


        1810:
        The Thornville Lutheran Church was organized in 1810 by Rev. Foster in conjunction with Rev. King, of the Reformed congregation.


        1810:
        The Dunkers or German Baptists, of whom there were, and are now, quite a number in the northern part of the county, worshiped in private houses in Thorn township as early as 1810. In 1817 a congregation was organized in Madison township near Mt. Perry.


        1812:
        This Rev. Foster organized the Lutheran church at Somerset in 1812.

        He died in 1815 and is buried in the Zion cemetery. The Somerset congregation, has a very interesting history. The church was located in what is now known as the Old Lutheran Cemetery. It was built of hewed logs and had a gallery. It had also a pipe organ, built by Henry Humberger.

        It was in this church, in 1818, that the Joint Synod of Ohio was organized, and thefirst preacher, Rev. Andrew Hinkle was licensed to preach.

        The "Lutheran Standard," the official organ of the Ohio Lutheran Synod was also for a time printed in Somerset. At one time, the Lutheran Seminary, now Capital University, was expected to be located here.

        In fact, during the ministry of Rev. Lehman, a theological class was privately taught. This congregation and most of the other Lutheran Churches in the county was served by Rev. Chas, Hinkle who is buried in the old cemetery.


        1811:

        The pioneer Methodist Circuit Rider early found his way into the Perry county wilds. The Methodists held services in the county as soon as any of the denominations. But the first class was not begun till 1811, when Rev. James B. Finley organized the congregation at Somerset.


        1812:
        This was followed the next year by the formation of a class at Rehoboth. Church services were held in the latter place in a private house until 1818, when a log church was built.

        The same year that the Methodists organized at Rehoboth, the Hopewell class or as it is better known, the Chalfant's Church - Chalfant's Chapel was formed.


        1812:
        Hopewell Baptist Church, on Zane's Trace, in Hopewell township is the pioneer church of that denomination. 1812 is the date of its organization. It was for many years one of the most influential of all the Baptist societies in the county).


        1814: OAKFIELD BAPTIST
        A Baptist congregation existed for some years at Oakfield. It's actual origin is unknowm, and may have been as early as 1800. It is worthy of being listed as a pioneer.

        In 1814 they organized and built a church, but the congregation was small.

        There is still a Baptist Church in Oakfield today, doing well, post AD-2010. There is also a Baptist Cemetery, though it is NOT the one closest to the present Baptist Church.

        (The one across the street today is Presbyterian, of which there is not a nearby Presbyterian Congregation).


        1815:
        Lebanon Lutheran Church at Junction City began its existence in 1815. For many years the Reformed people also worshiped in it.


        1818:
        The Lutheran and Reformed congregations jointly built St. Paul's at Glenford in 1818.

        The same year, the Shelly, or Good Hope Church was organized. St. John's Lutheran Church in Mondaycreek was organized by Rev. Fankenburg in 1841, but preaching had been held in private houses and barns for six years previous.


        1816:
        In 1811, Rev. James Culbertson of Zanesville came once a month starting the Unity Presbyterian Church. The organization proper was made in 1816, when Rev. Wright of Lancaster became pastor. The old log school house was used at first.

        During his pastorate the log church was built in 1826. Unity congregation had a wide influence. Her pastors were scholars. One was a graduate of Dartmouth and Yale, and another of Princeton.


        1818:
        It is said that Bishop Fenwick in traveling through Ohio reached the tavern of John Fink at Somerset, and upon discovering that his host was a Catholic celebrated Mass within the rude home of the pioneer.

        This is as far as known the first mass ever said within the bounds of the State. It was the genesis of the Catholic Church in Ohio. Bishop Fenwick was a priest of the Dominican Order which had established the

        Convent of St. Rose in Kentucky. Dr. Fenwick was ably assisted in his missionary work by his nephew, Father Young.

        The Ditto and Fink famihes had entered at the land office, three hundred and twenty-nine acres of land, located two miles south of Somerset. This they donated to Father Fenwick for the express purpose of establishing a Church and Convent of the Dominican Order. Fathers Fenwick and Young were sent to take care of this endowment.

        They arrived at their destination about the first of December 1818. On the sixth of the same month, the little log chapel in the forest was dedicated. It was the first Catholic Church in the state of Ohio. The congregation consisted of but six families. Before the end of the year an addition of stone was built to the log chapel.


        1818:
        Otterbein United Brethren Church is situated on the Pike, four miles west of Somerset. It is the first church of that denomination in the county. It has always been a large and influential society and is yet a strong organization. It dates from 1818.


        1818:

        Madison has an M. E. Church, known as Bethel, that antedates Ilflf by one year. It organized in 1818 and in 1819 ,they erected a hewed log church.


        1819:
        The first church in Harrison township was the Iliflf, The log edifice was built in 1819, but that is not the exact date for the genesis of the society. Bishop Iliflf of the M. E. Church is from this place.


        1820:

        Holy Trinity Church at Somerset was organized in 1820 by the Dominican Fathers. About this time Catholics began to pour into the county. It was found that Holy Trinity and St. Joseph's could not accomodate all. Arrangements were made to enlarge the latter and in 1829 a substantial brick edifice took the place of the original.

        St. Joseph's was the headquarters of the Dominican Order in America. From its Convent walls, its preachers, for preaching is what the Dominican priesthood stands for, went into all parts of the country. With the exception of the Pacific coast, St. Joseph's is yet the American center of the Order.

        Most of the Catholic congregations in the county were organized through the agency of the priests at St. Joseph's. Were all oi these congregations, with the exception of Holy Trinity, have passed under the ecclesiastical control of the Bishop of the Columbus Diocese, the honor of their organization belongs to the Dominicans.


        1820:

        The Hazelton graveyard in Saltlick township is an old landmark. The church that stood there not only occupied a prominent position, geographically, but its influence gave it prominence in another direction.

        The Hazelton Baptist Church was the first in Saltlick town- ship and the second of that denomination in the county. The church has for many years been destroyed and the congregation disbanded. The date of its beginning is 1820. John Hazelton for whom it was named was a soldier of the War of 1812.


        1820:
        The Bible Christians built a log church in 1820 in Monroe township. A frame building was more recently erected and services are still held.


        1821:
        To walk from New Lexington to Hazelton's to attend church was a little difficult, and it was not long after the organization of the church in Saltlick township until the Baptists in the vicinity of New Lexington concluded that they, too, might support a church.

        Accordingly, about 1821, the organization was effected. In 1825, they built their church of hewed logs. It contained a gallery and was quite a commodious building for the time. The present building stands near the site of the first. It was built in 1845.


        1825:
        The famous old Stone Church in western Saltlick is, too, in a ruinous condition. The congregation dates back to 1825. The building that is now falling to pieces was built in 1839. It was a magnificent structure for its day and is one of the landmarks of southern Perry.


        1825:
        The Fletcher, or Holcomb M. E. Church is in Bearfield township. They built a church in 1825, but for ten years, the congregation had met in private houses.


        1828:
        The New Lexington Methodist congregation was organized in 1828. The services at first were held in the old log Baptist Church. Eleven years later they built their church which was destroyed by fire in 1875 when the present brick structure was erected.


        1830:
        The Asbury M. E. Church in Monroe township may also be classed among the pioneers. Its beginning was in 1830.


        1830:
        St. Patrick's Church near Junction City is one of the children of St. Joseph's. It was organized in 1830 by Father Young of whom mention has already been made. The first building was of brick and was quite small. The present edifice was erected in 1845. It is one of the largest church organizations in the county.


        1830:
        Father Fenwick who became Bishop of Cincinnati, purchased land opposite the church in Somerset for the purpose of founding a female academy. This school was opened in 1830 in connection with a Convent. Its success was unbounded till it burned to the ground in 1866.

        Because of a generous offer from Columbus, it was determined to accept the new location. The well-known school, St. Mary's of the Springs, in Columbus, is the successor of St. Mary's at Somerset.

        A few years subsequent to the founding of St. Joseph's, a Catholic Church was built in the eastern part of Clayton township. It was made of logs and was used till 1833, when it was abandoned. The congregation then met at Rehoboth. in a large building that had been erected for a grist mill. The motive power of this mill was to be a perpetual motion.


        1830:
        Zion Church, in Jackson township, is only a few miles from the mother church. Before a church home was procured, church services were held in the woods. When the frosts of autumn came, they would turn log heaps. The date of the beginning of this society is 1830.


        1830:
        The Mennonite Church in Mondaycreek is the only representative of that denomination in the county. The exact date of its organization is unknown. Its members were mostly Germans and among them were many of the first settlers of that community. The date of its beginning is certainly before, 1830.


        1830:
        The pioneer Church of the Disciples was in the eastern part of Saltlick township where in 1830 a congregation began its existence.


        1832:
        he Baptist from New Lexington organized society of this denomination was at Bristol in 1832.


        1832:
        In the same year, Ebenezer, in Mondaycreek was founded.


        1834:
        Zion Church in the same township is of later origin. It began about 1834. It is in its cemetery that General Ritchey, ex-Congressman lies buried. New Reading African M. E. Church was organized in 1825.


        1830's OAKFIELD;
        A Disciple Church existed at Oakfield a few years subsequent to 1848.


        1837:
        The Presbyterian congregation in New Lexington was organized in 1837. Rev. Moore had preached to the people before. This society deserves to be placed in the list of pioneers.

        Rev. Moore rests in the cemetery beneath the shadow of the church, for which he labored so arduously. Rev. Henry Beeman of New Lexington, came to Unity in 1866 and for some years served as its efficient pastor.


        1847:
        In 1847, with Daniel Rusk, the father of Jeremiah Rusk, at the head, a congregation was organized at Porterville. A log church was built which has since been supplanted by a frame building. Daniel Rusk is buried in the cemetery adjoining the church.


        1850:
        Chapel Hill is possibly one of the best known churches in the county. It may hardly be considered a pioneer church, since it was not organized till about 1850. Services are not held here now, and the building is nearing a state of ruin.


        1851:
        A few years subsequent to the founding of St. Joseph's, a Catholic Church was built in the eastern part of Clayton township. It was made of logs and was used till 1833, when it was abandoned. The congregation then met at Rehoboth. in a large building that had been erected for a grist mill.

        The motive power of this mill was to be a perpetual motion.

        The architect didn't get the motion perpetuated and he was glad to dispose of the building. This was used as a church till 1851, when a new one near McLuney was built. The Rehoboth congregation then worshiped at the new location. The McLuney church has in turn been united with the new organization at Crooksville.


        1851:
        The architect didn't get the motion perpetuated and he was glad to dispose of the building. This was used as a church till 1851, when a new one near McLuney was built. The Rehoboth congregation then worshiped at the new location. The McLuney church has in turn been united with the new organization at Crooksville.


        1860:
        St. Matthew's Disciple Church near Mt. Perry was organized in 1851. The society was disbanded in 1867 and re-organized in 1880.



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