Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

- - - - - -

Salem / Shiloh

source:  Mansfield News, 25 July 1903


Submitted by Jean and Faye


History of Richland County

 By A. J. Baughman



To understand the history of Shiloh, that of Salem must first be reviewed and conditions considered.  Prior to 1828, a town called Salem was laid out in the north part of what is now Cass township, a little south of the Huron county line, but, as the plat was not recorded, there is no historical date of the survey.  The lots were in time declared vacated.  Mr. Powers, the founder of the place, had logical reasons to believe that a town was needed there, the site being at the crossing of the Savannah with the Huron road, the latter being at that time a great highway of travel between central Ohio and the ports on the lake.  Powers was the first merchant in the place.  Shoemakers, blacksmiths and wagon-makers were so necessary in every village that it seemed as though they were indigenous to those localities.

One of the first schools in the township was held in a log cabin at the Salem corners, on the south side of the Savannah road, and was taught by the Rev. Bennajah Boardman, a Methodist minister.  Teachers were paid by subscription then, the present common school system not being inaugurated until years afterwards.  As a rule, the teachers in those days did not spoil the child by sparing the rod, and as the history in those early schools is recalled, they bring to the mind Goldsmith’s lines:

“There in his noisy mansion, skill’d in rule,
The village master taught his little school:
A man sever he was, and stern to view,
I knew him well, and every truant knew
Well had the boding tremblers learn’d to trace
The day’s disaster in his morning face.”

The first church at Salem was a hewn-log structure, built by the Methodists in 1823.  In about 1816, the Rev. Boardman began holding religious services at the homes of the settlers.  He was a Methodist minister and preached in that part of the country as such for a number of years.  Among the ministers who followed the Rev. Mr. Boardman, were the Rev. Erastus Felton, the Rev. Mr. Chase, the Rev. Mr. Goddard and the Rev. Mr. Poe.  The Rev. Mr. Boardman finally settled at Salem as a local preacher, where he died in 1858.  Among the members of the Salem church were Asa Murphy, Peter and Annie Maring, John Catharine, Nancy, Betsey and Sarah Long and John and Hannah Bell.

It is often difficult to obtain historical dates.  The date of the running of the first railroad train from Shelby to Mansfield, over the Mansfield and Sandusky road - now a part of the B. & O. system - is obtained by its association with another event - with the holding of a meeting to get recruits for the Mexican war.

The first blood in the war between the United States and Mexico was shed April 24, 1846.  General Taylor, having been informed that the Mexicans were crossing the Rio Grande, above his encampment, sent Captain Thornton with sixty dragoons to reconnoiter.  They were surprised and captured.  Sixteen Americans were killed in the skirmish.  Troops were called for to re-enforce General Taylor, and a war meeting was held in Mansfield, May 16.  For the purpose of running an excursion to Mansfield, to the war meeting, seats were improvised on flat-cars that had been in use in the construction of the road.  But, this train ran only to the north limit of the town, stopping in the vicinity of the present water works pumping station.

The late John Rickets fixed the date of the first train of passenger cars running into Mansfield, by the record of the birth of a son - June 19, 1846 - and remembered the coincidence of the two events. 

But not even a coincidence as to the date of the completion of the Cleveland and Columbus railroad - now a part of the “Big Four” system - through Shiloh, can be obtained.  Jesse Maring thinks the road was opened in the fall of 1849.  Mr. Maring was the station agent of this road at Shiloh for thirty years - from 1851-1881.

But, so far as Salem was concerned, the date of the opening of the road was not of so much importance as was the event itself, and the result would have been the same had it occurred sooner or later, for the railroad was run nearly a mile west of the town, and the station that was erected there was in such an undesirable location that it was soon afterwards removed a half-mile further south - still further away from Salem.  The new site for the station being at the crossing of the Wooster and Tiffin road, a town was platted there in September, 1852, by Charles R. Squires, who had purchased four acres of land for that purpose.  This new town was called Salem Station.  Then there were Old Salem and Salem Station, to distinguish the old town from the new.  In 1862 the name of Salem Station was changed to that of Shiloh.  The Old Salem is now known as a locality, not as a town.

The name “Shiloh” was taken in part as a matter of convenience, as there were two or more other towns in the state called Salem, and partly in patriotic sentiment after the battle of Shiloh - one of the battles of the civil war, fought April 6 and 7, 1862, and in which the Union loss in killed, wounded and missing was 13, 491 men.  Shiloh, however, in the scriptural meaning of the word signifies places of rest, peace.  The ark of the covenant, kept at Gilgal, during the progress of the conquest, was at Shiloh from the last days of Joshua to the time of Samuel.  And it is written that “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, till he shall go to Shiloh.”

No reason is not known why Salem was thus named.  As it was a religious center, perhaps the name was given from biblical reasons, as some commentators claim that Salem, so called in Psalm 76, means Jerusalem - “At Salem is His tabernacle; and His dwelling in Zion.”

As to names, it has been said that words are the daughters of earth, and that things are the sons of heaven.  In the long sweep of time, names may be forgotten, but events will be remembered.

Shiloh has prospered and is one of the promising towns of the county, with natural gas sufficient, at least, for its own heating and lighting purposes.  New wells are to be drilled and even though oil may not be found, a greater volume of gas may be tapped, sufficient in quantity to pipe to other towns.

The railroad runs through a slight cut north of the main street.  As trains go through this cut playing as it were “hide and go seek” with the town, the passengers get glimpses of the beauty of the village, and often express regrets that they have not a better view of the town.

The Lutheran and Methodist denominations have handsome and commodious houses of worship.  There is a graded school, which, with the churches, bear evidence that both religious and the educational interests of the place receive proper attention.


The Brenneman block, built in 1873, is a three-story brick building, with a basement at the east end.  In the fall of the Centennial year, John Bradford Williams rented one of the business rooms in the Brenneman building and opened a dry goods store.  He had married the second time just prior to locating in Shiloh.  The woman he married was a milliner by trade and hailed from Medina county.  To outward appearances they got along nicely for a time, but ere long gossip reports stated that the domestic relations of the Williams family were not of the most pleasant kind.  These reports were confirmed by subsequent events.

One night in the fall of 1877, there was a cry of fire - that the Brenneman building was on fire.  The fire was in the room occupied by Mr. Williams.  By prompt action and hard work the flames were extinguished with but slight damage to the building but Williams’ goods were more or less damaged by both fire and water.

The Richland Mutual Fire Insurance company, of Mansfield, had insurance on the stock, and N. S. Reed went to Shiloh to investigate the matter and adjust the claim.  He arrived at Shiloh late in the afternoon and was met by Mr. Williams, who escorted him to the store and explained his theory of the origin of the fire, which was this.  That it was the work of an incendiary, and taking Mr. Reed down the stairway into the basement, pointed to a small, open window, through which, as he alleged, the incendiary had gained entrance.  Then they separated until after supper.  As usual, Mr. Reed was affable and courteous, and Williams, no doubt, thought he had smooth sailing.  At the second interview, however, Mr. Reed remarked - “Say, Mr. Williams, in planning this fire, there is one thing you forgot - you should have swept that cobweb-net from the window.”  Whereupon, Williams nearly fell from his chair, broke down and confessed and begged for mercy.  Williams was arrested, but at the preliminary hearing, entered a plea of “not guilty.”  At the December term of court, 1877, indictments were found against Mr. Williams and his son, Frank, on the charge of arson.  The latter confessed and turned state’s evidence against his father.  At his trial, John B. Williams was found guilty, and was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary, but was pardoned before the expiration of the term.  The son got off with a jail sentence of four months.  A few months after Williams’ conviction, his wife - Mary Ann Williams - obtained a divorce.

Mr. Reed did a clever piece of detective work in the case that will favorably compare with a Sherlock Holmes story.


The Hon. J. M. Hunter, now a resident of Shiloh, tells of his first trip to that locality, which shows the changes of time.  His father was a farmer, then residing in Bloominggrove township.  After the completion of the Mansfield and Sandusky railroad, Plymouth, thus having railroad shipping facilities to the lake, became a great grain market.  The warehouse at Plymouth was built across the cut, which was of sufficient depth to permit the cars to pass beneath the building, thus requiring no elevator.  The box cars used in shipping, were covered with canvas or tarpaulin, and held about a hundred and forty bushels, and wheat in August, 1846, brought forty-five cents a bushel.

It was perhaps the latter part of the summer of 1850, when Mr. Hunter’s father was hauling wheat to Plymouth, that J. M. accompanied him upon one of his trips.  This the boy considered a great privilege, and it was upon that trip that he first saw the site of Shiloh, and remembers it the more vividly, perhaps, because the street or road was being graded down to make a grade crossing, and that was the first grading the boy had ever seen.  At the junction with the New State road west of Shiloh, they got with a caravan of wheat teams coming from the south, while others were following them from the east.  Thus wedged in, it took them hours to get to Plymouth and wait for their turn to unload.  Mr. Hunter was then about six years of age.  He is fifty-nine now.  His life has spanned the half-century period in which the world has advanced more than in any other age.  During those years we have made history.  It would require volumes to give even a syllabus of each of the discoveries, inventions and improvements of the last fifty years.  We use the utilities of today, and recall the past only as a matter of sentiment, or for the lesson it teaches.  Mr. Hunter has served the people in a number of public offices, the most prominent of which was representing Richland county two terms in the legislature.

H. S. Moser retired from his farm some years ago, and resides in Shiloh.  As in the past, he always has a cordial greeting for an old friend.

Richard Kimmel, for many years a Mansfield grocer, owns a farm just north of Shiloh, and is now a tiller of the soil, but is as jovial as ever.

Fred Wolfsereberger, editor of the Review, makes somewhat frequent visits to Mansfield of late, on account, he claims, of political matters, but, inasmuch as he is young, good-looking and single, the reasons for his visits should not be insisted upon too strenuously

Further personal mentions must be deferred for a future chapter.

<< Back to Historical Information Index

<< Back to the Richland Co., Ohio Index