Part Two

Among the subjects of interest to the pioneers of a country, are the

PUBLIC ROADS AND CONVEYANCES.

“The first settlers,” say my Notes, “opened a road, in the Fall of 1806, to the vicinity where Paris (Preble Co., Ohio,) now stands. This was the beginning of their route to Cincinnati. Their object in going to this point, so much aside from a direct line to the city, was to avail themselves of a road opened by David Purviance, James Flemming, and others, from that place (where they resided) to Cincinnati.

“In the course of the summer of 1807, however, the pioneers established a nearer route, running to Eaton into Wayne’s Trace, which led to Hamilton.

“A county road was early established along the lands of Jeremiah Meek, Alex. Grimes, &c., down the hill-side to Cox’s Mill, and thence up the ravine between Boat-hill and Buhl’s brewery; the land on which Richmond stands then having no roads passing over it.”

It was considered a great advance in our intercourse with the world, when, in 1847-8, a four and six-horse omnibus connected us with Cincinnati. Competition for a short time reduced the fare to 50 cents a passenger; but, in 1849, Vorhees & Co.’s line only running, the fare was fixed at $1.50.

We have already said that in the year 1824 Richmond contained 453 inhabitants. The writer remembers that at that time there were “croakers” among us, as they are technically called; and the language of these was: “Richnmond has reached its zenith—there is nothing to keep it up—you’ll now see it begin to decline.” The more hopeful citizens pointed to the abundant water-power everywhere around us; to the fertile lands; the crystal waters of our springs and wells; the healthfulness of the location; the improving society; the moral character of the population; the materials for building—stone, brick-clay, lumber, lime, and sand. “What more,” said all these contented ones, “could a reasonable man desire?” “All this is true,” replied the croakers; “but when you have raised your corn and your hogs, and ground your grain, how are you to get out from here to a market?” The more sanguine inhabitant looked forward to better roads; yet he hardly knew how they were to come. Cincinnati was the chief market; the wagon was loaded up with the produce of the country—linsey-wolsey, tow-linen, flax-linen, beeswax, beans, ginseng, feathers, rags, lard, sugar, butter, hogs, flour, &c.; and, according to the state of the roads, two or three days were spent in getting to the city, and as many returning home. High waters and muddy roads would often cause the printers to stop the press, for want of his ream of paper or keg of ink, and the merchant to curtail his sales, for want of goods. The ardently looked for wagon would sometimes not arrive for one or two weeks.

But still, Richmond continued slowly to improve; and the next record of its population we find was made in 1826, [End of page 26] when it was 648 (16 being colord persons). In the year 1827, it reached 716—380 males; 293 females; 43 colored persons. In 1828, it numbered 824 citizens—of these, there were 427 white males, 347 white females, and 50 colored persons.

And now a

NEW ERA

was about to dawn upon Richmond, and the croaker’s voice to be silenced for a time. Many hearts were made glad when the Public Leger, in 1828, made the following announcement:

“National Road.—Mr. Knight has completed the location to this place, which is 4 miles, 26 chains, 17 links, from the State line. He is now engaged between this and Centerville, which is also made a point. He thinks it probable that he will locate as far as Vandalia, the capital of Illinois, the present season.”

And the State pride of our citizens was not a little exalted when they read, in Jonathan Knight’s Report of his survey, that he had “never passed through a greater extent of uniformly rich land, than on the route through Indiana. It is well watered,” he continues, “as may be inferred from the maps, and from the estimates of the bridge-work.” The whole estimated cost of bridging and masonry was given at $313,099.00; the whole length of the road across the State was 149¼ miles. The Report was read with avidity by our little population, and the following notice with pleasure:

“From the State line, the road “proceeds, by a very direct route, over an undulating surface, to Richmond, a thriving and respectable village situate on the east side of the east fork of Whitewater, in Wayne county, about four and a-half miles from the State line.”

Richmond was soon to breathe more freely, east and west, along this noble National Road. It was now admitted, even by those who looked on the dark side of the slowly progressive village, that Richmond would receive a temporary impulse by the construction of this great thoroughfare. Little did any of us then dream of well-made turnpikes leaving Richmond at almost every point of the compass, and of railroads, connecting us with all the large cities around us—and, indeed, with nearly all the large cities of the vast Union. That day, however, was advancing. Meanwhile, the Public Leger was not idle in stimulating the citizens to make the place more and more desirable as a residence. We give the following sample of an editorial in 1827:

“VILLAGE IMPROVEMENT.—The streets of our village, though considerably improved last year, yet require much labor to render them complete. In a number of places, after rain, water stands until evaporation carries it off. This is not only disgusting to the sight, but it is injurious to health. Such things ought not to be in a village improving in other respects as this is. It belongs to the appropriate officers to take the lead; and then individuals, no doubt, will contribute their exertions. Beside the improvements of the streets, there are other subjects worthy the attention of the citizens. Shade-trees afford so delightful a prospect, so much enhance the beauty and interest of a place, and are withal so wholesome, that every owner of a lot should set them out in front of it. The labor and expense would be trifling.
Protection against fire is much needed. Built, as the houses principally are, of wood, a single fire might sweep at once the promising village into ruins. All these subjects are worthy of attention, and ought to be acted upon.”

These suggestions were not lost upon the community. Here and there an improvement was made in the streets, pavements, houses and lots, as means admitted. Shade-trees began to be planted out; but as for “protection against fire,” it was thought that care would have to supply the place of fire-engines, while the town was so poor. Fires, indeed, were rare; and when they did occur, it was as often from lightning as otherwise. One or two incendiary instances are within recollection of the writer, as well as a stable or so consumed by lightning. But, combustible as the materials of the houses were, no neighboring buildings took fire, and no conflagration has ever occurred in Richmond.

Previous to this, the difficulties of

COMMERCIAL INTERCOURSE

may be partially inferred from the following memorandum, made by the present writer some years ago:

“In 1810, Bacon sold 2½ cents per lb.; Corn, 20 to 25 cents per bushel—but there was a season of great scarcity, when it sold for $1.25 per bushel—perhaps in 1819. Sugar was manufactured from the sugar-tree in large quantities, and sold here at 3, 4, and 6 cents per lb., while hogsheads of it were taken to the South in exchange for raw cotton, which, being in great demand here, was woven by the women, and the fabrics brought to the stores here to sell. Butter for a long time sold at 3, 4, and 6 cents per lb.; Wheat, at 37½ to 50 cents; Oats, in 1820, were 8 cents per bushel; Apples, at the earlieat periods, were brought from Redstone, Pa., by way of Cincinnati, and sold at $1 to $1.50 per bushel. ‘Many a time,’ said an old woman, ‘have I paid Robert Morrisson fifty cents a-yard for muslin, which can now be bought for eight and ten cents, and I have paid for it, too, with butter and sugar at six cents a pound.’

“John Smith commenced a store in a log building, near his present brick house, in 1810. Robert Morrisson began another in 1814, in a frame building on lot No. 1 of Cox’s sale. He afterwards effected an arrangement with John Smith, to enter into co-partnership; but before his goods were removed into the new store (a frame house on lot No. 1, Smith’s side,) his own building, with nearly all its contents—$500 worth—was consumed by fire. Smith & Morrisson finally dissolved, and a new firm was established, under the title of Smith & Frost. Their store was kept in the building on Pearl-street, lot 45. Frost (Edward) afterward kept a store on Front-street, lot 33, in the present frame building, which was also occupied by my father, in 1823, for the same purpose.

“’I used to take in eight or ten barrels of country sugar a-day,’ said one of these merchants; there was an abundance made here at that time. I recollect sending much to Kentucky and Tennessee, and exchanging it profitably for cotton. I once sent three wagon-loads to Lexington, Ky.’”

Books, in that day, appear to have been as inaccessible and as scarce as cotton. “A copy of Clarkson’s Portraiture of Quakerism being offered for sale here,” said Robert Hill to the writer, “at one dollar a volume (3 volumes), as I was too poor to buy it, Jeremiah Cox and I agreed to take it together, he buying two of the volumes, and I the other.”

Another early necessity of a thriving village is a

TAN-YARD.

Two of these were established here in 1818: the first by John Smith, for the benefit of Joseph Wilmot, a dwarfish Englishman, and the other by Robert Morrisson. Smith’s tan-yard was near his dwelling, and is now owned by the Wigginses. Morrisson’s once boasted 70 vats, and was on Main-street, north side, between Washington and Green streets. It was discontinued many years ago.

I quote again from my own manuscript of 1848.

STREETS AND IMPROVEMENTS.

In one of my old almanacs I find the following memorandum: “1826—this year gutters were made on the sides of the streets, and they were otherwise improved.” Until this period, the streets furnished pasture for our rambling cattle. Perhaps, here and there might be seen a short row of rough curb-stones, intended to separate a few loads of tanbark, or of gravel, or some equally rough flat stones from the streets; but in general, sidewalks and streets were one. And where gutters were ploughed, where some dry curb-stones might be, quite a lively emotion was created in the minds of the townspeople, who flocked to the line of internal improvement, and discussed the advantages of having suitable drains for the water. To cross a street in that day in wet weather was a formidable undertaking.

Horse-racks, of materials and structure, in perfect keeping with the humble pretensions of the village, stood a yard or two in the streets, or a foot or two on the sidewalk, according to the taste or convenience of the owner. And in 1826, when the “marshal,” (Isaac Beeson, the potter,) was ordered to cut down all the racks which trespassed upon the streets, if not removed within a given time, the question was raised by those immediately interested in the case, whether the town authorities had not transcended their legitimate powers in thus dealing with the “hitching places;” but on the day appointed, when the officer appeared with his axe to lay low one of the lawless racks, (he and the owner very amicably acting in sly concert to alarm the unwilling ones,) mattocks and spades speedily came to the rescue of the threatened structures; and the posts were forthwith dug up, and afterward replanted at the ordained distance from the lots.

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BUILDINGS.

When the proprietor, John Smith, erected his large brick house in 1811—now standing on Market street, west of Front—it was considered the most spacious building in the territory. He showed me, in 1826, on the adjoining lot, his first humble cabin, and the log store house hard by, in which he formerly sold goods to the Indians; and remarked with a smile, that the celebrated warrior Tecumseh, yet owed him a ’coon-skin, for a balance due on some ammunition.—On my lot (No. 18,) at the south-west corner south Front street, there stood in 1828 a low log house, twelve by eight feet, occupied originally perhaps as a dwelling place, then as a smith’s shop;* and afterwards again as a potter’s dwelling house. The pottery was a long frame building immediately opposite; it was torn down about the year 1824, having been occupied by Eleazar Hiatt, Isaac Beeson, Geo. Bell, (a mulatto,) and John Scott; all of whom are now living, except the last, who died of cholera spasmodica in 1833. The house on the north-west corner of Front and Walnut streets is one of the oldest buildings in the town; and was built and occupied by William Williams, who used the log cabin on my lot for his smith shop; it formerly had a long porch in front, and a stone chimney stood outside at the north end of the house. The subsequent repairs have greatly concealed its former antiquated appearance. The frame house too, north of me on lot fifteen, is one of kindred age; and once had a sort of porch-floor extending over the sidewalk and forming a pavement for the passing citizen, as well as dry resting place, for those who chose to sit and talk.—I hold in distinct remembrance the old log meeting house of 1823, standing near the site of the present large brick one. I remember its leaky roof, letting the rain through upon the slab benches with three pair of legs and no backs; its charcoal fires kept in sugar kettles; (for as yet stoves were not procured;) and the toes pinched with cold, of the young who sat remote from the kettles. Happily for the inmates, the air entered the room through numberless crevices of no small dimensions, or the whole congregation might have been suffocated by the baleful fires. In 1827 was consumed by fire a log building on lot six, put up in 1816 for a tavern, by Philip Harter, who kept entertainment in it. This was the first inn. In the present year (1848) David Hoover pointed to the log building on Charles W. Starr’s farm, near the tan-yard on Fifth street, and remarked that that was the first hewed log house put up in town, now twenty-two years old.

*On the south-east quarter of lot No.18, is yet to be seen the soil blackened by the dust of an old “coal pit” which was formed upon the spot.

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THE FIRST BREWERY

in Richmond was commenced by Ezra Boswell (already named), about the time the town was incorporated. Of the quality of the beer we have now no opportunity of forming a judgment; but it is said that some of the Councilmen of that day—who, of course, served their fellow-citizens gratuitously—one day sent to Ezra for some of his brewing; and we presume, they quaffed it until they were satisfied; but, like all men in place, they, by this simple act, subjected themselves to the tongue of slander. By the citizens, who took it upon themselves to watch over the pecuniary interests of the place, a rumor was set afloat that the Councilmen were drinking beer at the expense of the corporation. The price of beer, sold at taverns, was in that day fixed by the court at 12½ cents a quart; while the same authority rated whiskey, per half-pint, at 12½ cents; the same quantity of common brandy, at 18¾ cents, and cognaic [sic cognac], rum, and wine were to be sold at 37½ cents by the half pint. The care of the Court in this particular is further evinced by their allowing George Hunt, clerk, a certain sum for the purchase of whisky, during the sale of lots in Salisbury.

WILD ANIMALS.

The squirrel, in these early days, not only furnished many a meal for the resident, but they abounded to a degree that made them a nuisance, and the farmer was glad to invite the sportsman from town to visit his corn-fields, which were seriously molested by these nimble depredators every year. Other quadruped vermin also often annoyed his farm-yard. Wolves were a source of much anxiety and trouble, as well as loss. It is curious to find a reocrd on the minutes of the Court, allowing Robert Morrison [sic Morrisson] one dollar and a half for two wolf-skins. Bears were sometimes killed; and, even so late as 1827, according to a paragraph in the Public Leger (a newspaper hereafter to be noticed), several of these animals visited the vicinity of Richmond; and “their appearance,” says the editor, “has roused the spirits pf some of our sportsmen, who seem disposed to pay them all appropriate respect.”

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THE FIRST POST OFFICE

was established in 1818, and Robert Morrisson received the first commission as Postmaster. He opened the office in a frame building, at the southwest corner of Main and Front streets, where he also kept a store. The office and store were afterward removed to the northwest corner of Main and Pearl streets, also in a frame building, which was recently moved along Pearl-street, and now stands opposite to the Warner Buidling. Robert Morrisson held the office till 1829, when he resigned, and the appointment passed into the hands of Daniel Reid, who for a while taught school in the neighborhood. These individuals are still living.

Robert Morrisson informs me that the mail at that early period was brought here on horseback, once in two weeks, according to stipulation; but that, in consequence of high water (and the streams were not then bridged), and impassably muddy roads, the post-boy sometimes did not arrive for four or five weeks. The returns, made quarterly, amounted to two or three dollars, contrasting strangely with the present net proceeds of the office, these being, in the year 1856, $1,407.13.

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THE FIRST TAVERN,

which the writer remembers, stood at the northeast corner of Main and Pearl streets, with the sign of a “Green Tree,” and was kept by Jonathan Bayles. (From a memoradum in possession of the writer, it appears that there was an earlier inn kept by Philip Harter, in a log building, in 1816, on lot No. 6, south Pearl-street, and already alluded to.) Another, of later date, was on Front-street, near the south-west corner of Main, and was kept by Ephraim Lacey. The first was a two-story red brick building; the last a two-story white frame.* Both these inn-keepers are deceased.

*This hotel was discontinued about the year 1828; for, in that year, I find the following advertisement in the “Public Leger:”

FOR SALE

THAT well-known TAVERN STAND,

In the Town of Richmond, lately the occupation of Wm. H. Vaughan. A bargain will be given, and possession at any time that will suit the purchaser.

EPHRAIM LACEY

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THE FIRST LAWYERS

were one —– Hardy, who boarded at Ephraim Lacey’s tavern and walked the pavement (such as it was), with his thumbs stuck in the arm-holes of his vest, and his head pompously thrown back, spouting the phrase, “Qui facit per alium, facit per se;” but still no business came, and he concluded “to go further south, where merit was better rewarded.”

John D. Vaughan was here before the year 1828, and died of cholera in 1833. He was from Wilmington, Deleware. In 1826, John B. Chapman advertises himself in the Public Leger, as (“late of Virginia,”) “Attorney and Counsellor at Law,” &c.†

The late Charles W. Starr signifying to one of our lawyers that he thought, as a class, they were of little service to a community, the lawyer sharply replied: “Why, then, do you employ us?” “For the same reason,” said Charles, “that I would use a dung-fork —to pitch a nuisance out of the way, which I would not handle with my own fingers!”

†Foster P. Wright was here in 1829. He was a young lawyer, unmarried, and sometimes wrote poetry.

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THE FIRST DOCTORS.

One “Dr. Cushman” is said to have come to Richmond in 1820, and to have lived here a few years. He was a lame man, says an informant, and he opened a distillery at the south part of town, on the side of the hill on Front-street, near a spring. A large portion of the inhabitants at that time being Friends (commonly called Quakers), this enterprise did not succeed, and the establishement passed into the hands of Dr. Warner, who also soon abandoned it, and it went down to rise no more. Dr. Cushman returned to Fort Wayne, whence he came, and where he was an associate judge.

Dr. Warner was the principal physician in this place for many years. It is by his liberality the city is now in possession of what has been called, and is still familiarly known as, the “Warner Building.” The following obituary notice of this physician will not only mark the date of his death, but throw a little light (perhaps enough,) upon the character of the man, as he lived among us, to satisfy the reader. The Palladium, in which the notice appeared, is dated “March 14th, 1835:”

“We would gladly have been spared the painful occasion requiring the announcement of the death of one of our oldest and most useful citizens. On Tuesday last, Dr. ITHAMER WARNER departed this life, after an illness of a few days, aged about fifty-two years. Having resided in this county since 1815, where he has had an immense practice in his profession, and by industry and economy accumulated a handsome fortune, he of course became generally known, and with the exception of some peculiarities in his disposition, which occasionally gave offence, he was highly esteemed. Imperfection is stamped on humanity—none can claim exemption from it, but it is not derogatory to our remaining citizens to say, that very few if any of them would be more missed if taken from this community, than he who has gone down to the grave, without child to mourn a father’s exit, or bosom companion to wail a widow’s bereavement.”

Though not an alumnus of any college, Dr. Warner was a man of strong natural abilities, physically and mentally. His place of nativity was New England. He never married.

Dr. William Pugh was a small man, in feeble health. He removed to Centerville about the 1824, where he soon after died.

Dr. James R. Mendenhall, who is yet living, commenced practice in this place in the year 1822, and retired from the profession in 1830. He was the first graduate of medicine who settled here.

According to written information furnished to the present writer, at his request some years since, and now before him, Dr. Thomas Carroll, who is now practicing in Cincinnati, settled in Richmond in the year 1819, and left early in 1823. Dr. Carroll was probably the first physician in Richmond.


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