Biography Josiah Hedges
File contributed for use in the Ohio Biographies Project by
Suzanne Weiser
April 2, 2002

From Beers, Biographical Sketches, 1881. Union Township, Champaign Co.

Biographical Encyclopedia by            Pages 638-639.

Hedges, Josiah, The founder of Tiffin, Ohio, was born, April 9th, 1778,
near West Liberty, Berkeley County, Virginia. He left his father's home
at an early age, with the determination to carve out his own fortune.
The first enterprise which he undertook on his own account was a trading
excursion to New Orleans on a flat-boat laden with fruit, which he
floated down the Ohio river from Wheeling to New Orleans, the voyage
lasting six weeks.  He finally settled in Ohio, in 1801, one year before
was admitted as a State, and located in Belmont county, where for a
number of years he was one of its most active and prominent citizens. He
was the first Sheriff of that county, and for a term of years Clerk of
the Court. He next engaged in the mercantile business at St.
Clairsville. His capital was limited, but was slowly and surely
increased by prudence and sagacity. In those days merchants in the West
were wont to purchase their goods in Philadelphia, journeying across the
Allegheny mountains on horseback, and carrying their specie in their
saddle-bags. In 1819 he opened a branch store in Mansfield, having as a
partner his brother, General James Hedges. Soon after this he removed
from St Clairsville to Mansfield, and in 1820 made a journey to Fort
Ball--it now being a part of Tiffin. He immediately decided to enter the
land opposite to Fort Ball, on the east side of the Sandusky river, on
which the county seat was located and the city of Tiffin was afterwards
built: and proceeding to the Land Office at Delaware, Ohio made the
purchase of the same from the government. In 1822 the first stick was
cut on that part of Tiffin now in the First ward, and during the same
year the first frame house on the town plat was erected and used as a
store--now known as the "Old Masonic Hall." He also built, in that same
year, a flouring mill on the Sandusky river, and a saw-mill on Rocky
creek, both of which were largely patronized by the pioneers of that
day. By a prudent and liberal course in disposing of his town lots he
saw the place increase steadily in population, and in 1828 he secured
the removal of the Lay Office from Delaware to Tiffin, thus giving the
town a renewed impetus.  In 1831 he was chosen to represent the district
in the Ohio Legislature, serving one session. In 1837 he disposed of his
store to a son, and retired from trade, giving his attention from that
time until his death to his real estate interests in Tiffin, which were
necessarily very large. In his younger days he was an athletic and
vigorous man, and in his old age retained in a remarkable degree his
manly sense and vigor of mind, transacting and managing up to the last
his own business affairs. He was generous and just in his dealings with
his fellow-men, benevolent to all Christian denominations, in most cases
donating the lots on which their churches were erected, and was liberal
towards all public improvements. He was a friend to the poor, as many
citizens can testify, well remembering his kindness and leniency to
them. In all the relations of life he was a just and sincere man. He was
a good citizen and a true and steadfast friend. As a father,
affectionate and indulgent: and by his kindred, both old and young, he
will ever be gratefully remembered. To him they could always go, and his
heart was ever open to them. His sagacity and foresight were such that
his advice was often sought: and so excellent was his judgement that he
rarely erred in giving it. Although not a member of any church, he was a
good and true man, and upon his dying couch he expressed to his friends
a willingness to die, and assured them of his unfaltering trust in that
"Saviour who has promised to save all who may turn towards Him in faith
and penitence." He dropped away quietly, as if but entering upon a
sleep. Without a groan or struggle the good old man took his departure
and passed away "like one that draws the drapery of his couch about him
and lies down to pleasant dreams." He was first married September 29th,
1803, to Rebecca Russell, in Belmont county, Ohio, and had by this union
six children, two only of whom are now living--Mrs. Rebecca Walker,
widow  of Joseph Walker: and Mrs. Clarinda Hunter, widow of William
Hunter, all of Tiffin. His first wife died July 8th, 1816, aged
thirty-one years. After a widowerhood of one year he was married, July
10th, 1817, to Eliza Hammerly, of Martinsburg, Virginia, having by this
marriage nine children, of whom six are still living--his son William C.
Hedges, a real estate dealer in Tiffin: Cynthia A., wife of Luther A.
Hall: Mary Jane, wife of A. C. Baldwin: Minerva, Wife of Harrison Noble:
Elizabeth, wife of John G. Gross, all residents of Tiffin: and Sarah V.,
wife of W.W. Armstrong of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio. His second
wife died November 10th, 1837. He was last married, October 29th 1844 to
Harriet, daughter of Henry Snook of Seneca county, who survives him. He
died in Tiffin, July 15th, 1858.