A Brief History of Tuscarawas County


Tuscarawas County, Ohio


Supt. J. M. Richardson.

Note: Only certain sections of this book will be included on this site. Names have been put in caps to help with identification.


New Philadelphia. --The primal settlement of Tuscarawas by the Europeans began in 1802. From then till 1806, the settlers came in force; and blazing log-fires, falling forests and pioneer cabins building betokened the energy of this people independent by force of arms.

Among the first arrivals came William BUTT and family, who purchased 1200 acres of land and built his first cabin on the farm now owned by ROSEMOND. HEMINGER and his sons came along and were paid to clear a way for the wagons.

In the year 1800, the ground on which New Philadelphia now stands was appropriated by President John ADAMS to satisfy military boundary claims, and was purchased soon after by Godfrey HAGA. In 1804, HAGA, through his agent HECKEWELDER, sold nearly 4000 acres to John KNISELY who proceeded to lay out a town. In the spring of 1805, he moved hither with his family in company with John HULL who erected the first house built in New Philadelphia.

In May 1808, David FISCUS, Mr. GEIGER and son, Daniel WILLIAMS and Peter WILLIAMS, a lad of sixteen, concluded to make the journey on foot, as horses were not available for the entire party. They walked thirty miles the first day, the next day twenty-five, and sojourned over night in a log cabin where a supper of johnny cake and fat bacon, and a bed on the puncheon floor before the fireplace, were found. Starting early next morning without breakfast, they procured food from settlers and arrived at Steubenville, then a consederable village, as night fell, all lame and foot sore, except the boy who appeared to gain strength and freshness every mile he traveled. Five miles on this side of Steubenville, the party came to where the road forked and inquired of some wood choppers the proper road, but could not obtain the desired information. They disagreed and divided, three taking the path by Cadiz, and two pursuing what proved to be a more direct route. The two were FISCUS and young WILLIAMS, and they reached their destination thirty-six hours ahead of the others. The party stopped to rest with John KNISELY, the founder of the town, who escorted them to where it was to be. Reaching the forks of the road, where the roads to Cadiz and New Cumberland separate, he said, "Now you are in town; this the Lower Market Square and this," pointing westward, "is High Street." Looking around our new comers could see no town -- nothing but bushes and small trees; the houses were yet to be built. From High St. they followed a foot path around the bushes and saplings to the next square. Here the enthusiastic proprietor pointed out the Court House Square, and where the court house would be built. This square was like the former, except some bushes cut and corner stakes driven. Across this square ran Broadway. This was partly cleared. On this street Peter CRIBBS and George LEININGER had stuck their stakes. The former had erected his cabin and potter-kiln near the southeast corner of the square, and the latter had built his house on the corner opposite the old GRAY House. Christ STOUTT had built a house on Water Street near the site of the old saw mill; and Henry LAFFER lived in a frame house near where the Lion Hotel stood in 1866. Of these four families the town of New Philadelphia consisted in 1800. All else was fenceless and houseless as the untrodden wilderness.

Organization of the County. --The first county established under the Territorial Government of the Northwest was Washington. It was created, July 27, 1788, by proclaimation of Gov. ST. CLAIR. and embraced within its limits one-half of the present State of Ohio. Marietta was the county seat, and the settlers in what now constitutes Tuscarawas County were obliged to pay taxes, attend courts, settle estates, etc., at that town until 1804. An act to establish Muskingum County was passed Jan. 7th of that year, to take effect March 1st. It included all that part of Tuscarawas County which lies within the United States Military District. Tuscarawas County was established from the territory of Muskingum by an act of the State Legislature, passed Feb. 13th, 1808, to take effect March 15th of that year.

Commissioners appointed by the State had been, in 1808, assigned the selection of an appropriate site for the seat of justice in the newly located County of Tuscarawas. KNISELY called attention to the advantages of his newly laid out town, and was successful over all other parties, the commission deciding upon New Philadelphia as the site. The commissioners who made the selection were Elijah WADSWORTH and Eli BALDWIN, and they were allowed thirty-two dollars for their services. The law had located the county seat at a place where a few log cabins had been erected in the midst of the wilderness. The present city shows the wisdom of their choice. Location being settled, the town was then surveyed by John WELLS, of Somerset County, Pa. On the 23rd of April, 1808, John KNISELY donated to the county one hundred lots, chosen at random; one hundred and sixty acres of land and one block each to the German, English and Moravian Societies, for cemetery purposes; and one lot each to the Germans and English, upon which to build school houses. Philip TRACY was appointed public crier, and he sold ten of these donated lots at public auction for a total of one hundred and twenty-four dollars.

Dover. -- Jesse SLINGLUFF and Christian DEARDORFF, two of the original owners of Dover, first visited the county in 1802. These two, and a third, Charles BOEHN, bought part of a four thousand acre tract, owned by MORRISON of Kentucky including the site of Dover. On their way to their purchase, they saw but two cabins from the Ohio, that of Leonard, at Canton, and HUFF, at the mouth of Huff's Run, a few miles north-east of Dover. When DEARDORF and SLINGLUFF first stood upon their purchase, but one settler, George HARBAUGH, was on the west side of the river.

The partnership was brief. DEARDORFF returned in 1805, bringing with him a mill wright and carpenter, built a cabin, and began the construction of a grist and saw-mill. These were where the salt-works are, about half a mile from town. This was the first water-mill within many miles, and the only one for several years. Previous to this, the hand-mill and hominy block had supplied the settlers wants. For several years, DEARDORFF lived in his cabin at the mill, doing his own cooking.

In 1806 the settlers began to come more rapidly, and Dover grew. The first store in Dover was kept in DEARDORFF'S house. It stood on the corner north of the Iron City House. The second was built by William SHANE. The Village was platted in 1807 by SLINGLUFF, DEARDORFF and BOEHN.

Dover remained an inconsiderable village until the building of the Ohio Canal between the years 1826 and 1830. At the time of beginning construction of the Canal in 1826, there were not more than a dozen houses in the town. Fortunately for the place the Canal was located on the west side of the river for this brought it to the very gates of the town plat and gave it a leading position in the traffic of this then mighty high-way. It at once became a center of trade and commerce. Constant streams of grain and other farm products flowed into its capacious warehouses to be shipped to Eastern markets. Men of superior business ability were attracted by its advantages and in 1840, Dover was the first town in the county in point of population and importance. Dover was incorporated as a village in 1842 by the legislature, in response to a petition presented by the citizens. Dr. Joseph SLINGLUFF was the first mayor. In a few years the people grew tired of incorporation. The ineffective and expensive method of collecting the taxes was one of the principal causes that led to this result. Accordingly, Mr. CRATER was nominated by the party that was in favor of permitting the charter to lapse. He was elected, and for almost a score of years Dover was witout a village government. In 1867, the necessary steps were taken to revive the dormant incorporation, and officers were elected and municipal government re-established. Since that time the village has enjoyed a steady and vigorous growth, and is today one of the best manufacturing towns of its size in the state. The population of the place at present is about four thousand.

Uhrichsville. --Uhrichsville is located in one of the earliest settled and most important localities of the county. Uhrich's Mill, on Big Stillwater, one of the first build in pioneer times, was patronized by settlers for many miles around, long before the town was laid out in 1833. The name which the proprietor, Michael UHRICH, dedicated the village was Waterford, but six years later it was changed to Uhrichsville. The plat was of goodly dimensions, embracing 94 lots. The streets were wide and well arranged. The first or canal period, from 1833 to 1850, was one of rapid growth and great prosperity. The Pan Handle Railroad was constructed about the year 1850, and the village entered what may be termed the second period. Then followed a depression for about fifteen years. Business was extremely dull, property generally depreciated in value and the increase in size was scarcely perceptible. Its third period dates from the erection of the railroad shops at Dennison, which proved an invaluable boon to Uhrichsville, for the population was rapidly augmented and a bustle and activity develped which theretofore had been unknown. Since the original plat was surveyed, several large additions have been laid out and rapidly built up. We will here give a sketch of the early business interests of the city:

At the south end of Water Street stood the large hewed-log dwelling of Michael UHRICH, the proprietor. In this building which was erected in 1804, Mr. UHRICH kept the first tavern in Mill Township. John WELCH kept the first store in this locality. It stood west of the Stillwater, but after the town was laid out, he built a store and warehouse on lot 1 and moved across with a stock of goods worth $1500. He dealt extensively in wheat and lost heavily in 1844, through the fluctuations of the eastern market. He soon after retired to his farm, upon which Dennison now stands, where he died a ripe old age. About the time the town was laid out, John C. MOORE came from Moorefield, Harrison County, and in partnership with Michael UHRICH built a store and sold goods on lot 86. They bought and shipped wheat. Mr. MOORE remained in business here two or three years and then returned to Moorefield, where he subsequently died of cholera. John STERLING was another early and prominent merchant. He was an Irishman by birth, and in 1835 came from near Albany, N. Y. to Waterford and opened a store the year following. Dealing in wheat proved his financial ruin, and after residing elsewhere for a time, returned to Uhrichsville where he passed his declining years. Jonas HASKINS came in 1835, engaged in the mercantile business, and died in the spring of 1837, leaving a wife and eight children, several of whom still reside in this vicinity. Mordecai WHEATLY, a Virginian, built the first dwelling house within the plat after it was laid out, and is said to have been the first blacksmith in the place. His house stood on lot 84, east side of Water St., between Second and Third streets. He afterward moved west. Aaron ROBINET was also among the first settlers of the village. He too, followed the avocation of blacksmith. BARLEEN was here before 1835, and built a tannery on the southeast corner of Main and Second streets and lived on an adjoining lot. Among others who came here early, we find the names of Joshua LOCK, John CAHILL, William ROSS, Samuel WARFEL, Thomas BENNER, Nelson POULSON, Philip UHRICH, Richard MORRIS, Robert MCCLINTOCK, Charles ANDREAS, Jacob HUSTON, John MEESE and Thomas RANSOUR. John WELCH was Uhrichsville's first postmaster.

Prior to the construction of the railroad, wheat buying and shipping was the chief business of Uhrichsville. The Ohio Canal was in operation at the time the town was laid out, and transported the surplus grain to Eastern markets. Uhrichsville commanded the whole trade of the valley of Stillwater. Wheat was hauled to this point from a distance of thirty of more miles, from a large portion of Harrison, Guernsey and Carroll counties. In 1837, there were two grain warehouses at Uhrichsville, and the number afterwards increased to five, each doing an extensive business. At first the grain was taken by boats, the flour by flat boats, down the Stillwater, Tuscarawas and Muskingum as far as Dresden, where a lock connected the river and canal, but about 1835 a lock was constructed at Trenton, thereby greatly increasing the commercial facilities of Uhrichsville. A number of canal boats were built here by George WALLICK, and for a time the village enjoyed all the advantages of a canal town. The construction of the Pan Handle Railroad, however, completely sapped the vigor of the village by depriving it of its trade. Numerous stations along the lines became shipping points, and business at Uhrichsville sank to a very low ebb. Property depreciated rapidly and could be bought for a fraction of its former value. The town had developed as a grain port, and when this was gone it was left a stranded, overgrown county town. Its growth was slight till the hum of the railroad shops was heard across Little Stillwater, when a new era of existence began, which has rapidly advanced it in size, population and importance. The construction of the C. L and W. R. R. gave new impetus to the now rapidly growing and prosperous city.

The village was incorporated in 1866, and John MILONE was elected first mayor. Uhrichsville is now one of the most active and energetic business towns of Eastern Ohio and has a population of about four thousand, and its church and educational advantages are among the best.

Dennison. --The town of Dennison is located on the east side of Little Stillwater Creek opposite Uhrichsville. It was named in honor of William DENNISON, Ohio's famous war Governor. The Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railway Co. had announced their intention of making it the principal point on their line between Pittsburgh and Columbus, and the town became familiar to the public from the start. Dennison is sometimes very appropriately called "the Altoona of the Pan Handle road," for the reason that it bears the same relation to the Pan Handle that Altoona does to the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Company also selected it as the location of their shops; and thus Dennison became a place of importance, and it is not to be wondered at that it has grown to be quite a little railroad city.

The town was laid out in 1865, the same year the shops were completed and its growth has been very rapid. Its population in 1893 had reached 2,925.

Nature had done but little to make the new town attractive or desirable as a place for living. The ground was low, and in some places, swampy, and in wet seasons mud was the most common article to be found on the streets, sidewalks and lots. The disadvantages of nature must yield to the onward march of progress. What was lacking in natural surroundings and helps to the advancement of the town has been supplied by money, industry and perseverance. Discouraging as conditions must have been at the start, Dennison has become a pleasant, well built and attractive town, with good streets, solid business blocks and elegant residences. The shops of the P. C. & L. R. R. are among the most complete and extensive in the country.

The town was incorporated in 1873, and three additions to the original plat have been made. The place is thoroughly progressive in its spirit. Church and school advantages are among the best in the county.

Mineral Point. --Another of the active, energetic and progressive towns of record growth in Tuscarawas County is Mineral City, more generally known as Mineral Point on account of that being the name of the post office. Mineral City was laid out by Alfred DAVIS and George LECHNER in 1853. The original plat consisted of forty lots of various dimensions, located between Huff's Run and the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad. Additions to the original plat have been made by DAVIS and LECHNER, DAVIS and MCGREW, Ferdinand BRINKMAN, Philip BLACK, Thomas MCCREARY, John DEIRINGER, Wesley M. TRACY, C. E. HOLDEN and M. D. SKEELS.

Alfred DAVIS, one of the proprietors, built the first house and kept the first store. A post office was established in 1854, and Mr. DAVIS was appointed first postmaster.

The fire brick works were built in 1872 by C. E. HOLDEN who still remains proprietor, and has succeeded in establishing an extensive trade in his line of business. He manufactures chiefly material for the construction of glass furnaces. The clay used and coal consumed are mined in the immediate vicinity.

The American Fire Brick and Clay Company has recently erected very extensive brick and clay works, and enjoys a lucrative trade. The village also boasts of several large clay and coal mines, planing mills, foundry, canning factory, &c., giving employment to about 450 laborers. Its growth in recent years has been rapid, and although the topography of the location is rather uneven, most of the streets are well paved and a number of good substantial business blocks and fine residences testify to the energy and progress of the citizens. Church and school facilities are excellent, and socially Mineral Point deserves to rank well up in front. The census of the place, taken in 1895 by Mr. J. T. RICE and the writer, showed a population of over fourteen hundred. By act of Legislature passed March 31, 1877, Mineral City was made a special School District. The schools have grown rapidly, keeping pace with the growth of the village, and now about 400 pupils are in daily attendance at the fine, large, ten-room brick building. Mineral City was incorporated October 11, 1882 and Mr. J. F. RICE was elected first mayor.


J.M. Richardson. Used with the permission of author's daughter, 1999 -