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Home > Places > Delaware County, Ohio > Radnor Township, Delaware County

Radnor Township


Rev. B. W. Chidlaw, 'Radnor Township, Delaware Co., O.', The Cambrian, Vol. I, No. 5, pp. 173-181.


After the Commonwealth of Virginia had ceded the territory northwest of the Ohio River to the United States Government, in 1787, Congress passed an ordinance in relation to the vast domain thus acquired. Its provisions required that out of this territory, not less than three, and not more than five states should be formed, and that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, otherwise than as a punishment for crimes, should ever exist within its bounds. With these guarantees that the broad and fertile territory thus obtained should be forever sacred to free soil and free labor, the tide of emigration, from the original States and from the old world, commenced to flow westward to possess this large and valuable inheritance for a Christian, enterprising, and patriotic people, and a civilization of the highest and noblest type. The Principality of Wales, Great Britain, had furnished a large element in the population of the thirteen colonies planted on the shores of the new world, contemporaneous with the Puritans, the Cavaliers, and the Hugenots. Freedom led thousands to leave the graves of their sires and to find a home in the wilderness of North America. The record of the Welsh immigrants, and their descendants in colonial times, and in the Revolutionary, war, formed a bright page in the history of that great and successful struggle for nationality and a free government. Of the fifty-four signers of the Declaration of Independence, nine were natives of Wales, or descendants of early Welsh immigrants. Robert Morris, a man of great wealth and eminent business ability, the Secretary of the Treasury during the war of the Revolution, was a Welshman. In the army that won our freedom, Welshmen, as officers and privates, stood shoulder to shoulder with those heroic and brave men whose undaunted bravery and undying patriotism achieved our independence and made the colonists a nation of freemen.

The priceless and self-sacrificing services of the Revolutionary army, rank and file, though highly appreciated by Congress, were but poorly remunerated. The Government, having no available funds with which to liquidate the just claims of the victorious soldiers - now disbanded and quietly settling down as private citizens - appropriated a generous share of the public lands for their benefit. A large area of eastern, central and northern Ohio, known as the U.S. Military, and Virginia Military lands, was given by the General Government to the officers and privates of the army of the Revolution.

At the beginning of the present century there lived in Philadelphia a Welshman of repute, Dr Samuel Jones, who had served in the army, and who held a U.S. warrant for 4,000 acres, one-quarter of a township of the public domain, located in central Ohio. In 1801, a young Welshman by the name of David Pugh, a native of Maesyfed, Radnorshire, South Wales, after a tedious and perilous voyage of three months, landed at Baltimore, Maryland. In this city he found employment, and acquired a knowledge of the English language. In 1802, David Pugh went to Philadelphia, where a large number of Welsh people resided. Here Mr Pugh became acquainted with his countryman, Dr. S. Jones. Dr. Jones, recognizing the fitness of the young Welshman, as a trusty, adventurous and energetic man, employed him to visit the land for which he held a lawful warrant. Early in the spring of 1802, David Pugh started on horseback, from the city of Baltimore for the almost unknown West, to find and explore the land, and to report to the owner. Of the journey of David Pugh we have no knowledge. On the summit of the Allegheny Mountains he found a Welsh settlement, and rested a few days. After two months of faithful travelling he reached Franklinton, on the Scioto, a small outpost on the outskirts of civilization. The land for which he was seeking was located in the sixth township of the twentieth range, U.S. survey, and Franklinton was the nearest point to its location. Here he employed an experienced backwoodsman, travelling, over two days, guided by blazed trees, through an unbroken wilderness, he found the land called for in the warrant held by Dr. Samual Jones. Seventy-nine years ago these two men trod the soil on which the inhabitants of Radnor now live. What a vast solitude then. How full of life and activity to-day. Mr. Pugh and his faithful guide carefully traced the boundaries of the land, observed its timber and the quality of the soil. In the early winter of 1802 David Pugh returned to Philadelphia, and rendered an account of his stewardship to the owner of this fertile, beautiful, and valuable estate.

THE FIRST LAND SOLD IN RADNOR

On the 2d day of March, 1803, in the city of Philadelphia, Samuel Jones sold to David Pugh this tract of 4,000 acres, previously given to David Lodwig, and 50 acres reserved for a glebe for the use of a Baptist or Presbyterian minister of the Gospel. (See Record of Franklin county, Book A, page 32). In 1803, Henry Perry, a native of North Wales, with his sons Levi and Ebenezer, aged 13 and 15 years, induced by David Pugh, made his way to the land which he had bought of Dr. Jones. Mr Perry left his wife, Margaret, and several small children, in Baltimore, Maryland, and with these two boys made his way on foot, a distance of over five hundred miles, to his future home in the unbroken wilderness. Henry Perry was the first settler in Radnor township. He arrived in the fall of the year, and after selecting a location, with the aid of the two boys, he built a cabin, and during the winter cleared several acres. In the spring of 1804, after planting corn, pumpkins, potatoes, beans, &c, leaving the new made home on the truck-patch in care of the boys, he went back on foot to the city of Baltimore, and at once returned with his family to the new home in the woods of Radnor. During the winter of 1803-4, Henry Perry and his boy made several trips on foot through the wilderness to Franklinton to purchase supplies and seed for planting the first crop ever raised in Radnor. Corn meal, and the game abounding in the forest, captured by their skill with the gun and trap, furnished food so that they never suffered from hunger. Some cold nights, for the want of sufficient bed clothing, they were compelled to sit up in front of a rousing fire, and thus many a cold night was passed by these heroic and self-reliant pioneers. In the spring they found wild turkey eggs, which they fried in opossum fat with onions. This made a savory dish, on which they fared sumptuously. For several weary months these two noble, daring and fearless boys, 13 and 15 years of age, were the sole inhabitants of Radnor. The truck-patch had been planted and cultivated without a plow or harrow, the spade, hoe and mattock were the only agricultural implements then in Radnor. With industry and skill the youthful laborers cultivated the first crop of the Virginia soil, and the yield was bountiful. The father, mother and the children travelled from Baltimore on their westward journey with a hand cart. In this primitive carriage all their worldly goods were packed, and by the dint of pushing and hauling, the Allegheny Mountains were crossed, and in due time the new home in Radnor was safely reached. On a bright evening in the early autumn of 1803, the boys, having finished the work of the day, and prepared their evening meal of roasted potatoes and venison steak, broiled on the glowing embers, heard the approach of the weary travellers, and once more their glad eyes feasted on the sight of father, mother, brothers and sisters. We may well imagine the great and peculiar joy of that family re-union. The past, with all its toils, privations and anxieties was forgotten in the happy re-union, in their new home. The mother told of her tedious voyage across the boisterous Atlantic, charged with the care of her six children, of the weary months they spent separated from the father and the two boys, and of the incidents of travel from Baltimore to the wilds of Radnor. The boys were on hand with the story of how they wintered in the first log cabin home without neighbors' society, of how they labored in clearing the first field in the township, of how they planted, cultivated and gathered the first crop produced on the fertile soil of Radnor, and with glad hearts they showed their noble mother and admiring brothers and sisters the ample stores provided for the future. Thus the first evening of the re-united household was joyously spent. The occupants of the first home in Radnor brought with them their venerated and treasured Welsh Bible, and its hallowed light filled their new home and trusting hearts. The father, as priest of the family, led the evening devotions, of the household around the family altar, rendering devout and humble thanks for the great goodness and many blessings, bestowed by the Giver of all goods with supplications for the guidance and continuance of the favor, of our Heavenly Father; thus consecrating the new home, in the unbroken forests of Radnor, to the honor and service of the God of all the families of Israel.

THE NAME RADNOR

Was given to the township by David Pugh in honor of his native county in Wales. It is an English and not a Welsh name. Radnor is one of the twelve counties in the Principality. The Welsh name of the county is "Maesyfed" signifying "a place of drinking." Tradition and the Bards say it was so named because in a great battle fought within its borders the earth was saturated with the blood of thousands slain. The soil drank the blood of the fallen heroes, hence it was called "Maesyfed," the field of drinking. Radnor, as a proper noun, has no significance or meaning; but being a short, euphonious word, designated such a beautiful locality in central Ohio, we accept of the act of David Pugh as eminently proper, and place "Radnor" in an elevated place among the proper nouns in the vocabulary of the English language.

THE SALE OF LAND

David Pugh, having laid out his 4,000 acres in 100 acre lots, offered them for sale. The first purchase was made by Henry Perry, lot No. 1, containing 100 acres for $150. The deed was given June 16, 1804, and is on record in Delaware. The second sale was on the 7th day of September, 1804, to John Jones, the lot laying west of Mr. Perry's and adjoining it, for $150. On the same day Mr. Pugh sold to John Watkin another 100 acres, for $150. In 1805, Hugh Kyle and David Marks, each bought 100 acres, at $250. The same year Evan Jenkins bought lot No. 7, 100 acres for $200. We find that Mr. Pugh sold land and town lots also to B. Kepler, Richard Hoskins, Thomas David, John Minter, Val Foos, Samuel Morgan, Richard Tibbot, John SeeBar, Edward Lodwig, Samuel Morgan, David Perry and John Phillips. In 1805-06, Mr Pugh sold quite a number of lots in New Baltimore at prices ranging from $5 to $10 each. Prior to 1810 Mr. Pugh bought another tract of land in the southern part or the township from Thomas Harris, Ph.D., which he sold to Joseph Dunlap, for $9.033, on the 4th day of August, 1810. Mr Dunlap was from Pennsylvania and became an active settler the same year. In 1815, Mr. Pugh sold 150 acres to Wm. Boyd for $500, and 240 acres to Ralph Dildine, for $720. The latter deeds were acknowledged before David Macks, an Associate Judge, then living in Radnor.

Thos. Warren, with his son Robert, Samuel Cooper, Mrs Margaret Wasson and her son James Wasson, John and Robert McKinney, Obed Taylor, James Fleming, Elijah Adams, Watkin Watkins and John Davis were early settlers and purchasers of land prior to 1817.

THE INDIANS

The Wyandot tribe, on the Sandusky Reservation, and sometimes the Shawness, Delawares and Pottawattamies, visited the settlement and maintained amicable relations with the settlers. Indeed they were quite peaceable and often befriended them. In the year 1809, a party of Indians passing through the settlement, one of their number stole a silk bandana handkerchief from the cabin of Evan Jenkins. The theft being discovered, two of the neighbors on went horseback in pursuit. The squaws of the party were overtaken, encamped on what is now known as "Battle Run." One of them wore the stolen property on her head. The owner, unceremoniously, took the handkerchief and hastily mounted his steed and took the homeward stretch. In their ear the crack of a rifle was heard. This quickened their speed and excited alarm. Hugh Kyle, seated at the door of his cabin on the roadside, heard the noise of the horses, and discovering that Evan Jenkins was about to loose his saddle blanket, dangling at the feet of his steed, he cried out: "Jenkins, take care of your blanket." The rider exclaimed: "Let her go and behanged. Better lose the blanket than get the cold lead." The settlers were quite alarmed at the state of affairs. That night they assembled in the cabin of Evan Jenkins, armed and ready for defence, should the savages attack during the night. Some slept, others were on guard. About midnight the glaring eyes of an Indian warrior were seen peering through a large crack used as a window. The discharge of a rifle brought down the savage intruder, and with breathless anxiety they awaited events. Morning dawned and all was quiet. On examination the dead Indian turned out to be a favorite cat, accustomed to use the crack as an entrance to the cabin. The next day the Indians, bearing the white flag, came to the settlement for the purpose of adjusting their difficulties. A council was called and held near the cabin of David Marks (the old Wolfley farm). The Indians acknowledged the theft and were ready to smoke the pipe of peace. The settlers accepted the terms of reconciliation and friendship, received some choice venison, the pledge that the tomahawk was buried, and amicable relations restored. The tragic end of the first of the feline tribe ever brought to Radnor was greatly deplored, and the occasion of special regret. The old Wyandot Chiefs, Summadewat, Esquire Grey Eyes, and Between The Logs, the early friends of the settlers, frequently visited the neighborhood, and traded in cranberries and jerked venison with the people, until the tribe, in 1840, left their reservation and went to Kansas.

SOCIAL LIFE

Pioneer life was strongly marked with true friendship and genuine hospitality. Creed, politics and nationality yielded to the higher social life in the new settlement. Common dangers and privations developed the noblest social qualities of our humanity. The Calvinist and Armenian were one in Christ. Political differences were unknown. The Welsh and the Americans were in perfect sympathy, good neighbors warm and sincere friends. Thus they united in raising their cabins, rolling their logs, and gathering their harvest sympathetically. They bore each other's burdens and shared each other's joys. In times of sickness and death the whole settlement would respond in sympathy and efforts to relieve the afficted. No skilled physician, with supplies of drugs, could be called. Remedies suggested by experience, such as lobelia tea, a decoction of burdock roots and the tonic of spice bush, wild cherry and dogwood would be provided. Thus they battled with burning fevers, and arrested the wasting power of the ague. In case of death in the household, sympathy and help came promptly from all the neighbors, whose loving hands prepared the body for the grave. In the absence of sawmills, nails and cabinet makers, the coffin was made of hewn slabs of the best walnut or cherry, skilfully prepared with a broad-axe and drawing-knife, and held together with wooden pins. For several years the pioneer families were wonderfully preserved from death in the household. The aged mother of Hugh Kyle was the first adult death in the settlement. She died in 1807. Her remains were interred in Radnor Cemetery, the first fruit of the harvest of death in the township. The oldest marked grave in the cemetery is that of Thomas David, aged 48, died September 5, 1810. These early funerals, without pomp or elaborate arrangements, were occasions of deep and solemn interest. Old and young attended with heartfelt sorrow for the bereaved, and their hands and hearts were ready to comfort and relieve them.

Of the nuptial feast in Radnor of the first happy pair made one by matrimony, we have no record; but there was a time when weddings begun to take place in Radnor. The reign of love in human hearts and its consummation at the altar, dates back to early times. Whose marriage was first celebrated, when and by whom the ceremony, was performed we have no information. But the tablet of memory holds the record that nearly sixty years ago there was a wedding in Radnor, and a grand occasion it was. Great preparations were made. All the ovens, skillets and spiders used in cookery, all the tablecloths, knives, forks, and spoons, within range, were cheerfully loaned.

How the boys and girls had to run on those borrowing errands, prepare fuel, help churn, catch and feather the poultry, take a bag of corn to the still house at Hoskin's mill, and trade it for whisky, go to Delaware and barter for tea, coffee, and spices. What a happy crowd would gather to witness the ceremony and share the feast. In later times some evil genius would make a Paddy, with a letter in his hand, and throw him into the house, a very unwelcome visitor. Sometimes the wedding party, on the way to the infare, would find obstacles in the road, or a wheel of their wagons would be removed, and travelling variously interrupted. Yet these out cropping of thoughtless sport were not perpetrated with malice or evil intent, but simply for the fun of it.

BIRTHS

In 1806, an event of marked importance and unusual interest occurred in the cabin home of David and Mary Pendry. It was the advent of a new comer, the first birth in the township. In accordance with a time honoured custom in Wales, in honor of the father, the child was named David.

This first fruit of matrimony on the prolific soil of Radnor, touched the hearts of the sturdy pioneers in a tender place. Everybody called to see the baby. The home of David and Mary Pendry was for days the scene of kindly greetings and genuine joy. At the expiration of seventy-five years this young adventurer abides an honoured and esteemed citizen, spending the even tide of his long life still cherished by the loving care of the worthy companion of his youth, and the filial devotion of their children, and their children's children. James Kyle was the second child born in Radnor. His late death at the age of nearly 74 years, is deplored and his memory honoured by all. The first girl born in Radnor was Mary, familiarly called "Polly," the daughter of John and Mrs. Jones. She was born in 1807, and is now living, and enjoying a happy old age, as the esteemed wife of Hon. Wm. M. Warren, of Scioto township.

CLOTHING

Among the pioneers of Radnor, what shall we eat and wherewith shall we be clothed were questions involving anxiety and perplexity.

In their homes in the wilderness the supply of food was scanty and precarious. They had not the mana and the quails from heaven, but the forests and the streams, with the productions of their clearings supplied daily wants. He that of old furnished the barrel of meal and the cruise of oil, preserved the people from hunger, so that none were compelled to suffer. In regard to clothing, the stock brought from Wales or the old settlements in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, was soon exhausted.

Their clothes waxed old upon them and their shoes waxed old upon their feet, and no miracle was wrought in their behalf. They had no money with which to replenish their wardrobe, or the opportunity to run up a store bill, yet there is no evidence of any real suffering for the want of raiment or bed clothing. The law of necessity develop the spirit of invention and self-help. The Nimrods of the settlement, with their sure rifles, captured the deer, and his home tanned skin, furnished moccasins, leggings, and hunting shirts. Buckskin dress goods, soft and pliable, made very comfortable apparels, especially in dry weather.

Flax was an early product of the virgin soil of Radnor. Its growth was luxuriant and the fiber excellent. It was pulled, rotted, broke, scotched, hackled by our sturdy grand parents, and by the use of the little wheel and the loom our ingenious grandmamas manufactured it into two cloth and fine linen fit for the garments of queens or the robes of Princesses. Sheep were early introduced and their fleeces were invaluable. Home carding, spinning and weaving furnished a fabric which our grandmothers made into comfortable, and at that time very fashionable dresses. In those happy days there were no factories or modern machinery, but the log cabin home supplied the lack. The process of fulling the woollen goods was very primitive. The owner of the woven blankets would bring long deep trough into his cabin, filling it with warm water and home made soap, and his neighbors of the sterner sex, invited to the frolic would sit on benches on each side of the trough containing the blanket goods, and with their feet perform the fulling operation with admirable success and plenty of genuine amusement.

In the lower Miami Valley pioneers made linen out of the fibre of the nettle, and found it durable and pleasant to wear. In the toms the nettle grew luxuriantly, in the autumn it fell to the ground, and during the winter it rotted, so in the spring it was gathered, ready for the break, the scotching knife and the hackle. It is not known that the Radnor pioneers so utilized the nettle plant.

MILK SICKNESS

Radnor has been wonderfully exempt from calamity and disease. The dark wing of pestilence has not brooded over its fair borders. Years ago, the milk sickness prevailed with great fatality in some localities, especially, in the north-east part of the township. Some families were nearly swept away by this mysterious and fatal malady. The milk of cows kept in cultivated pasturage, and well supplied with pure water, never produced the disease, but cows pasturing in the woods, without a supply of pure water, died of the disease, and persons using their milk or butter also suffered. The cause producing such fearful results has never been satisfactorily discovered, nor has medical skill furnished a preventative or a cure.

THE WAR OF 1812

At the commencement of hostilities, some fifteen or sixteen families resided in Radnor township. They were much exposed to danger from hostile Indians in the service of the British. Once, greatly alarmed, most ot the families fled to Franklinton, a fortified post, garrisoned by U.S. troops. The danger having passed they returned to their homes. In 1814, some volunteer soldiers were encamped in Radnor, guarding the frontier. A block house, 22x20 feet, made of logs, 15x18 inches in diameter, was built on the line of Macks and Kepler's, near the road. At the height of 10 feet, a projection of three feet was made to protect the roof. Port holes wee made in three sides. This backwoods fortification was standing in 1824. Some of the soldiers died and were buried in the grave yard, but no stone marks their resting place. Their graves are lost and their unknown names have gone to oblivion. The presence of these soldiers, in a time of danger, added greatly to the comfort of the defenceless settlers and their helpless families; and their brave defenders deserve the honor of their descendants.

In the lat war - the war that crushed rebellion and saved the life of the Nation - Radnor set a large number of her noble and heroic sons whose bravery, courage, and patriotism on many a battle field in behalf of freedom and Union, won imperishable laurels and undying fame.

Gweinyddu