Early Settlers and Early Times on Donnels Creek and Vicinity
Clark County, Ohio

by Samuel S Miller 1897

The school district in Bethel neighborhood was organized and a house built in 1821. Frederick MILLER gave the land and Hugh M WALLACE the timber. Mr. J P LEFFEL (died April 7th, 1887, aged 88 years) living south of this city, helped put it up. No tools but an axe and saw were needed. The boards of the floor were left loose so the refractory students scholars could be put under. There are a couple of them yet living that went through early in the 20’s. There were high up benches for large boys and girls, and low down ones for the little ones. The long windows were one light high. This house served for school, lyceum, singing and religious meetings.

It seems that about the year ‘30, the mud and stick chimney fell down and the floor gave way, so that the school-house was not used for awhile. Mr. Peter EBERSOLE remembers of going to a school taught by Henry GAINES, in a vacant shanty on the GAINES’ farm, and also to Wm. JOHNSON, afterward county commissioner, residing at Clifton, O., who taught in the house vacated by David MILLER on the old Miller farm. The walled spring then used was dug into recently by Mr. HEISTAND, while making a ditch. It was covered up with several feet of earth. Books at this time were hard to procure; economy had to be practiced in their use; the letters and even spelling were frequently pasted on paddles, to make them last well. As to clothing, it was no small matter in a large family to have full suits for all. Some were without hats, and some without shoes. One old timer remembers driving up the cows that laid around a hay-stack on the route, warmed his bare feet in their bed, and then heeled it over the frosty ground to the school-house. He tells of another boy coming to school bare-footed in February. When asked why he did so, replied he wanted to save his shoes for Sunday. When the school-house was repaired a stove of the peculiar construction of that day was bought and put in the middle of the room. By taking out an inside plate, a large space was made. Filling this with green sugar and dry brush, a very hot fire was made. No such thing as seasoned cord-wood was known. The wood in long pieces was cut and hauled when wanted, and the teacher and scholars shortened it for the stove. It was a custom also, to make a list of the larger boys who took turns in making fires in the morning. This mud-daubed school-house lasted until 1853, when a brick of improved pattern was erected.

Among the early settlers were the FAIRS. The boys were carpenters and skillful with the broad-axe, helping to make many of the houses and barns in this section between 1820 and ‘30. The father was a shoemaker and lived in a cabin on the site of the residence of the widow of Silas TRUMBO. Mr. KEMP GAINES remembers of timing his trips, so as not to be caught after dark in passing the ruins of the house where the fatal accident of Wm. MCKEE occurred---the path leading near by. Reports were out that the sights that could be seen, and the sounds that could be heard, in that locality after dark were not of a pleasing kind to children. The FAIRS afterward lived between David and John MILLER’s, in a cabin which was there in the ‘40s, and occupied by the ICENBERGERS. It was then like Alice CAREY’s home, when a child......

“Low and little and black and old,
With children many as it could hold”

Wm. FAIR cut his name on a beech tree, near the Bethel school-house, in 1825, and it remained quite distinct for over 50 years, and up to the time the tree was cut down a few years ago. The FAIRS moved to Indiana about 1835, and the writer, with his father, was present at the starting----this being his first sight of the kind. These pioneers moving out into what looked to him like an interminable forest, in the dreary rain, made a lasting impression.

The large families that furnished scholars for the old school-house in the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s, were the WALLACE’s: George, Smith, John, Elizabeth, Ellen, Paulina, Isabella, Angeline, Harvey and Hugh. The GAINES’: Joseph, Kemp, Aaron, Phebe and Mary. EBERSOLE’s: Jacob, Sarah, Joel, Peter and John. ALLEN’s: James, Phebe, Rebecca, Abigail, Sarah and Melinda. MCCOLLY’s: Rosetta, John and Clark. SNIDER’s: John, Jacob, Eli, Valentine, Peter and sisters. Daniel Miller’s: Mary, Delila, Sarah, Leah, Henrietta, Emily, Eliza, Clara, Benjamin and Willis, who was a soldier and fell in battle, and Tyler. The VICORY’s: Nora, widow of Dr. Gillett, and Elizabeth. DONAVIN’s: Aquilla, John and Thomas. ROLLER’s: Samuel, George, Joseph, William, David, Catherine and Mary; William was a soldier in the civil war. John MILLER’s: Harrison, Samuel, Milton, Elizabeth, Catherine and Charity. David MILLER’s: George, Martha, Amanda, Jasper, Smith and Ira were Hundred Day men in the late war. SHELLABARGER’s: (12 of them mentioned elsewhere.) ICENBERGER’s: Nine in number. Anthony LEFFEL’s: David William, Rebecca, Samuel and Harrison. NEFF’s: Elizabeth, Margaret, Joseph and Rosetta. Samuel SMITH’s Sr.: George, Israel, Samuel, Mary, Sarah, Ira, Hezekiah and Rhoda. MCFADDEN’s: John, Elizabeth, Susan, Catherine, Amanda and William. John HARDACRE’s: Elizabeth, Joseph, George and Milton, army boys. Milton fell in battle; Joseph and George were for many years in the Chicago post office, and became superintendent of departments.

The GORDINs living about two miles east of the school-house, were seventeen in number; sixteen lived to raise families. Those who came to school were, Richard, George, David, Frederick, Mary, Sarah and Delila. David was an army man, now residing in Missouri. Of this family there are eleven living; the oldest, William, a few miles west of Springfield, is 83. The youngest, Delila, wife of Rev. Joshua Barret, living in Topeka, Kansas, is 58. father and mother GORDIN, with the older children, came from Botetourt County, Virginia, in the fall of 1816, and stopped for the winter with a settler, a short distance north of their land, and worked hard all winter to make an opening in the wilderness and prepare a shelter for the coming season. William remembers that the winter was very cold with deep snows. Having no gun, they ran deer and wild hogs down with their dog, thus getting a supply of meat.

Although nearly all of the families just mentioned owned good sized tracts, at that day there was comparatively a small amount of land tilled. The income was not large, and it may be truly stated that these pioneers’ chief wealth consisted in the dozen or more strapping children of both sexes that surrounded the family board at meal time.

The teachers between ‘21 and ‘30 were Henry WILLIAMS, Peter SMITH, John MCCOLLY, William JOHNSON, Henry OYLER and John MCREYNOLDS. The first female teacher was Mary SMITH. Mrs. Margaret GAINES and Rosetta MCCOLLY also taught summer schools. Joseph and Kemp GAINES taught between ‘30 and ‘40. Joseph had a genius for teaching, and made it his life-work; was a profound thinker, and imbued his scholars with a love of thoroughness; gave to the teaching a higher tone than had been known before in that region----and it had never been lower in other places. he also increased the range of studies. The harsh methods of discipline were not used by him. He was living in Donnelsville, and was teacher of that district at the time of his death, which came in the prime of his life. His devotedness and enthusiasm in the cause of education left an impression, which is still seen I Bethel Township to this day, leading all in it’s educational appliances.

The school section that the Bethel district had an interest in was the tract where Col. SINTZ resides, and Mr. K GAINES remembers that the first renters sometimes had a few bushels of corn for the district, and sometimes they took all for rent. Col. SINTZ’ father bought the section, and the money was loaned to the Shinplaster Bank at Urbana, Ohio. In a financial pressure the bank broke, and so the money for that section, No. 16, went “where the woodbine twineth”.


extracted from
“History of Clark County, Ohio”
W H Beer’s & Co 1881

For many persons listed, these dates are approximate. Some were in the area prior to settling in Bethel Twp.

1790 PAUL, John

1795 LOWRY, David b 1767 PA, m 1st Sarah HAMMER, m 2nd Jane (WRIGHT) HEDGE

1795 DONNELS, Jonathon from Lycoming, PA

1798 WALLACE, Hugh M b 1778 PA, (my note: m 1st Margaret SMITH, m 2nd Eleanor RICHISON)

1800 McPherson, John

1801 TATMAN, Joseph b 1772 NC 1798>Brown Co, OH>Clark Co, OH

1802 HUFFMAN, Jacob PA>OH

1804 CROFT, George b 1771 PA, m Mary CRITZ

1803 CORY, Thomas b 1738 Essex Co, NJ >Warren Co, OH>Clark Co, OH

1803 CORY, Elnathan b 1776 Essex Co, NJ m Jun 1800, Hannah JENNINGS

1803 LAYTON, William PA

1805 RALL, Abraham Brooks b 1776 Essex Co, NJ >1789 PA>OH>NJ>OH

1805 WILLIAMS, Henry  VA

1806 FORGY, John, James, Stewart and Presley

1806 FORGY, John (to Clark Co before 1806, father of John, James, Stewart and Presley)

1806 MC KINNEY, Samuel (to Clark Co before 1806)

1806 Wallace, John Sr KY

1806 HAINES, Leonard

1806 WALLACE, Reuben

1806 LAMME, John

1806 LAMME, James

1806 CRANE, John Sr

1810 LOWMAN, George

1810 REYBURN, Joseph

1810 HOLMES, William

1810 CRUE, John

1810 KEEVER, Abraham

1810 BUTTER, Joseph

1810 RIGGS, Edward

1810 WALKER, Oliver

1810 MC COY, William

1810 BINGERMAN, Jacob

1810 PURSELL, Benjamin

1810 JACKSON, John

1810 LOOFBOROW, Jacob

1810 WHALEN, John

1810 PARAMEE, Ezekial

1812 KEIFER, George b 1769 MA m 1799 Margaret Hivner b 1772

1817 HUSTED, John

1817 FUNDERBURG, Jacob

1817 RICHESON, John

1817 LEFFEL, Jacob