Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

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Cass Township

source:  Mansfield News, 04 April 1903


Submitted by Jean and Faye


History of Richland County

By A J. Baughman



Cass township was organized Dec. 12, 1849.  The country is generally level, and the land fertile  The township is six miles long from north to south and four miles wide and contains twenty-four sections.  It lies between Bloominggrove and Plymouth townships in the north tier adjoining Huron county.

Cass township was named in honor of Gen Lewis Cass, who had been the Democratic candidate for president in 1848.  The Democratic party was then divided in New York, which gave that state to the Whigs, electing General Taylor by 36 electoral votes.  Lewis Cass was a senator from Michigan from 1844 to 1857, when he resigned to become secretary of state under President Buchanan.  This position Secretary Cass resigned in December, 1860, because the president refused to re-enforce the garrison at Fort Sumter.  President Taylor died on Saturday, July 9, 1850.  Vice President Fillmore was out of the city and did not return to take the oath of office until Monday, the 11th, and during the interim, Senator Cass, by virtue of his office as president pro tempore of the senate, was president of the United States.  Cass is not counted in the list of presidents, but wagers have been won in the case, the fact being shown by the Congressional Globe of 1849-50.

The first settlement in Cass township were made in 1815, on section 13, by John Long, and on section 24, by John McCart.  Both families came about the same time, but McCart built the first cabin in the township, and Long the second.  Other settlements were rapidly made.  Among those were the following who came in the same year:  John Morris, who settled on section 4; Daniel Gonsales, section 9; Asa Murphy and family, including a son, Asa, from Virginia, section 1, Daniel Prosser, section 31.  Robert Greene came in 1816, from Hampshire county, Va., and Thomas McBride in 1817, settling on section 3.  The following persons settled near the present site of the village of Shiloh, from 1816 to 1825:  Frank Carmichael, Levi Bodley, William Bodley, Theson Richardson, Cornelius Brink, John and Aaron Pettit, Ephraim Vail, Richard Thew, John and Isaac Murphy, Reason Barnes, Thomas James, Benjamin Young, William Gotton, Peter Hall, John Long, Jr., Thomas Hamilton and James Long.

The first town laid out was called Salem, the site being a mile northeast of Shiloh.  A man by the name of Powers was the originator and promoter of the village and was its first and only merchant.  The place seemed well chosen on the route from Mansfield to Huron, and at the intersection of five roads.  But, a rival town was started a mile to the south, at the crossing of the Wooster and State roads, and in time the Cleveland and Columbus railroad was built, running a half-mile or more west of Salem, and causing a new town called Salem Station to be built, which name in time was changed to Shiloh.  And Shiloh prospered and is now one of the most flourishing cities in Ohio.  A church or two and a few farm houses now make the place where the little village of Salem once stood.

The second attempt to found a town was made on the eastern part of section 33, on the road leading from Mansfield to Plymouth.  The town was called London, and was laid out in 1832, and forty-seven lots were sold soon after the town was platted.  London prospered for a time, but the place is now only a cross-roads settlement of less than a dozen houses.  The founders of London were John Snyder, Abraham Fox and Michael Conrod.

The third attempt at town building was made in 1837, on section 13, at the junction of the State road with the Beall Trail, or Wooster road.  John Long was the first settler at this junction, and operated a tannery.  These roads were much traveled, especially the State road, over which teams hauled grain and other farm products from the south to the lake - the only market then available to the farmers of north-central Ohio.  On the principle of demand and supply, Mr. Long had to change his cabin home into a tavern to accommodate the travel along these roads.  Mr. Long soon sold out to a man by the name of Rumer, who in time sold to John Plank.  Mr. Plank laid out a town which he called Richland, but which was generally known as Planktown  A new and larger hotel was built and the town grew quite rapidly for a time until it numbered about two hundred people.  It had two stores, two hotels, a wagon and a smith shop.  At certain seasons of the year it was no unusual thing to see two hundred freight teams pass through the village in one day.  In about 1847, Return Jonathan Meigs Ward became proprietor of the Eagle House, situated at the northeast corner of Wooster and Norwalk streets.  On the 18th of March, 1850, Ward killed Noah Hall, a merchant of the place, who boarded at the Eagle House.  Hall had collected money preparatory to going east to buy a stock of goods for the spring trade.  The object of the murder was to obtain this money.  Ward directed suspicion against Daniel A. Myers and Thomas McGarvy, residents of the village, who were tried, charged with the crime, but were acquitted.  Sometime after the Hall murder a pack peddler put up at the Eagle House for the night, and was never seen again  Ward’s wife became insane and was sent to an asylum, where she died.  Ward disposed of his property in Planktown and located in Sylvania, a little town west of Toledo.  He remarried, and a year or two later murdered his wife.  For this crime he was hanged at Toledo, July 12, 1857.  Between the time of his conviction and execution, Ward made a full and detailed confession of the three murders.  After these murders the town seemed to be fated and went into a decline, and now but few houses mark the place where the prosperous little village of Richland once stood.  Freight was not the only traffic which caused Richland to thrive and prosper  The great stage lines from Mansfield to the lake passed through Richland village, which was a relay station.  Although those old stage days are numbered with the past, many things connected with that period are interesting to the people of today  The stage was the only public mode of travel then, and stage drivers were important personages in their time and were character readers of both men and horses.  They were terse and sententious in expression upon lines of their duties and could be entertainingly loquacious in narrating events of the past and in giving the history of the country through which their lines passed.  They would talk to their horses, which, as a rule, intelligently obeyed the orders given them.

A story is told of a stage-driver who had inherited a farm, bade good-bye to the hardships of the road and settled down to the pleasures of sheltered prosperity.  After enjoying the seclusion and quietude of the farm for a week, he went out to the road to see the stage pass.  The driver gave him a salute, and snapping his whip, the horses started ahead on the gallop, the coach bounded on and disappeared.  The farmer felt lonely, and as he leisurely walked back over the fields to his new home, he formed the resolution to again go on the road.  Accordingly he packed his carpet-bag, went to the nearest stage office, re-entered the service, and two days later drove down the same road, on the same coach, snapping his whip and waving a good-bye to his farm. He had one week of farm life, and that was enough for him.  He preferred the excitement of the road and liked to be in close touch with the living, moving world.  He left a record of having driven 135,000 during his stage service - more than five times round the globe.

When stages were relegated to the past in England, stage men refused to realize the fact that their occupation was gone.  This was not the case in America, where, with Yankee shrewdness, they adjusted themselves early in the day to altered conditions and obtained employment with the railroad companies, and many were advanced in position, and finally obtained wealth.  American stage-drivers accepted the railroad and profited by it, and we should accept the improved utilities of our generation.

In 1850 the Cleveland and Columbus railroad was built through Cass township, putting it in direct connection with both state capital and the commerce of the lake.  Upon this line Shiloh is an important station, and will later be given a full chapter, with mention of its public citizens and sketches of its business enterprises, in the religious field, the Methodists were the pioneers.  The United Brethren and Lutherans are also represented.

As in other townships, the first schools in Cass were subscription schools, and were held in private houses, there being no public fund for school purposes.  The Rev. Boardman, a Methodist preacher, was one of the first teachers, before any school house was erected.  The cabin in which this school was held was a short distance south of the Old Salem church.  The first school house was built in 1819, on section 9, and the first teacher was A. D. Bodley.

The first settlers of Cass township have long since departed for that Better land where Enoch and Elijah are pioneers.  It is well at times for the generation of today to recall how bravely the first settlers of Ohio met the perils that surrounded them, and consider with what steadfastness and fortitude they worked out the problem of civilization  Hearts go out to them in sympathy for their suffering and in gratitude for their tolls, for it is to that noble army of pioneers in whose ranks they marched, and in whose battles they fought that we owe the fertile fields, the beautiful homes and the wealth and the culture of Ohio, in this, the Centennial year of her statehood

What changes a hundred years have brought.  Ohio is but one of five great states that have been created from what was once known at the “territory lying northwest of the river Ohio.”  Over forty thousand square miles of area are covered with all the improvements, conveniences, facilities, beauties and adornments of Christian civilization, and Ohio is but typical, not only of that original northwest territory, but also of that further west, lying still beyond and stretching away to the golden shores of the Pacific.

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