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County Coordinator:
Denise Wells
State Coordinator:
Dale Grimm

RILEY, territorially one of the largest townships in the county, is bounded on the east by Townsend, on the south by Green Creek, on the west by Sandusky, and on the north by Sandusky Bay and river. Its surface is flat, and while yet as nature had "made it, was marshy. Numerous streams flow sluggishly through shallow channels toward the bay, and fill its map with black lines stretching the whole length of the district from south to north. These streams widen as they approach their outlet, and near the bay are more like ponds than living waters. Pickerel Creek flows near the line of Townsend township. Its banks are higher and current swifter than the other streams. It derives its name from the fact that its mouth was formerly a feeding place for fish, a large proportion of which was of the variety bearing that name. The two branches of Raccoon Creek meet near the marsh. The quiet waters of its lower course is a harbor for catfish. South Creek empties at the head of the bay, and Green Creek, the largest of all these streams, pours its sulphurous waters into the river. In the flat southwestern corner are a number of large ponds. Here the hum of cheerful mosquitoes, and the hoarse croak of lazy frogs break the stillness of summer sunset.

"Fishing, during the period of early settlement, was little sport. Fish were too plenty. The fisherman who patiently waits half an hour for a bite takes real satisfaction and pleasure in drawing from its water home one of the finny tribe, but when he can dip them out with a market basket, or spear barrels of them in one night, fishing descends to common labor and amuses no one. The early inhabitants made fish a staple article of food. Flour was hard to get on account of the distance and incapacity of mills. Fish were plenty and without price. Winged game then, as now, abounded in the north part of the township, and settlers, unhindered, enjoyed the luxury of hunting on common grounds.

These hunting grounds are included in sections thirty-three, thirty-four, and thirty-five of township five, and so much of township six as lies within the legal limits of Riley. Originally this tract was mostly prairie, covered heavily with marsh grasses, and at intervals with shrubs. The freshets in spring time inundate the whole tract, bringing from the head waters large quantities of feed, which attracts the game later in the season. Trapping fur-bearing animals, and shooting ducks, afforded the settlers of the upland farms considerable contingent revenue — in fact was the source of a large amount of their cash. Trappers often became involved in serious quarrels. A common offense was transferring from one trap into another the most valuable captives. It thus happened "that the early bird caught the worm." Suspicion of foul play of this kind not unnaturally produced hard feelings between rivals, and often led to blows.

There was another object of dispute. Some locations were better than others, but all could not be accommodated at the same place. The ground was public property and there was no well recognized principle of "trappers' rights." The conflicts of claims had their natural results. But the impression should not be entertained that a hunter's life was a fighter's life. These contentions were episodes, the employment in general being calculated to encourage a rough and ready good cheer.

Two classes of individuals harvested the resources of the prairie marshes — squatters and upland settlers. The settler devoted his energies to clearing and improving land for farming or in raising stock. Hunting was a contingent employment, engaged in only for recreation or a little ready cash which farm products did not command at that pioneer period. The life of the squatter was the picture of ease in poverty. A rude cabin furnished shelter; fish and game daily diet, and the trapped captives were bartered for simple clothing and such luxuries as men of their character enjoyed.

But there came a time when the squatter lost his home and the settler his hunting ground. Our own people failed to see in this expanse of marsh any intrinsic value, but left open to foreigners the opportunity of a speculation. In 1856 all the northern end of this township was entered at a mere nominal price. It afterwards became the property of two sporting clubs, one known as "Winous' Point Shooting club," the other as "Ottawa Shooting club." The State laws against trespass arc strictly enforced. It seems unjust to the men who have borne the burden of improving the country, to be barred by foreign landlords from the privileges of hunting, but it is the penalty of neglect. This tract should have been made a public park, and regulated by such legal enactments as natural laws require.

The soil of Riley township is formed of decomposed vegetable matter and produces large crops of wheat. Originally the south part was a thick forest of heavy trees. Toward the north the trees were smaller and the forest broken by an occasional tract of prairie. Prairie prevailed north of the tier of sections seven to twelve. The lands of this region were found well adapted to stock-raising, but too wet for farming. As we shall see presently, the first settlement was made on the clear district.

There are on Michael Stull's farm two natural mounds, formed by strong springs throwing out sand and muck. The hard crust will bear the weight of stock but a stamp of the foot will shake the mass for twenty feet around. These springs empty their water into Pickerel Creek, which has its source in a similar spring on the Cowell form about two miles south. The cool, fresh water furnished by these springs attracted the pickerel and white bass, with which this stream once was filled.

Mr. Stull, who was the first settler on the prairie, says when he first came there in 1820 they made hay and stacked it, where now the water stands four feet deep. The heaviest northeast winds did not then drive the water to their stacks.


That ancient race, concerning which so much has been written, and so little is really known, have left marks of their residence in this township. A line of mounds and enclosures extend along the bay from Racoon Creek toward the east for a distance of several miles. None are traceable and, probably, none existed except on the prairie, and cultivation has made the outlines of these indistinct. An enclosure on section two contains about two acres. The whole Mississippi basin is dotted with similar structures but their occurrence in the lake system is more rare. An old settler informs us that he saw these works distinct in their entire outline. By whom and when they were built will never be known to a certainty, but there is no doubt of their great antiquity. That they are not the works of the Indians their mathematical regularity, and the contents of those which have been excavated, furnish proof.

On Mr. Stall's farm there was a circular enclosure about twenty rods in diameter with two gates or openings on opposite sides. Part of the wall on the west side was made by piling up a ridge of limestone of a soft quality, found in the vicinity, about four feet high, covered with earth. The other portions of the wall was made entirely of earth. There are three other similar enclosures within a radius of a few miles. In all these stone axes and earthenware were found.

Care should be taken not to confound these remains of an ancient civilization on our continent with the relics of a more recent but savage population with which we are better acquainted. To this latter class belong the two pieces of skeleton plowed up a number of years ago by Daniel Carl. One was the shoulder blade of a man pierced by a point of buck's horn, which had, no doubt, been an arrow point; the other was the leg-bone of a man on which, near the knee, was an enlargement containing the point of a flint arrowhead, as large as a man's thumbnail.


The settlement of Riley was later than the neighboring townships. The reason for this is obvious when it is known that the main roads through the county all ran south of its territory, and settlement naturally centered along the main roads. A view of the township in 1824 would show one road cut through from Erie county to the prairie, three or four improvements near the edge of the heavy forest, and here and there a squatter's cabin along the creek. The school section in every township was the apple [in the squatter's eye. Experience had taught them as they had retreated, from time to time, before
advancing settlement that the school lands offered the longest tenure. The first settlers located their lands on the prairies, the heavily timbered district at the south was left till last, and has furnished comfortable homes for a large and respectable class of Germans, who began to make improvements about 1835.

Andrew Stull, one of the earliest settlers of Lyme township, Huron county, was the first settler in Riley. He resided in Huron county about seven years. In 1820 he packed his goods on a wagon and started westward on the old army trail, which passed through the centre of Townsend township, about one mile south of the prairie. The location in view was in section one, township five, and when a point opposite had been reached, a thick and seemingly impenetrable forest intervened between the trail and the prairie farm. But stout hearts and determined spirits were not to be baffled by nature's obstacles. A way was cut through, and the spot which has been the scat of the Stull family for more than sixty years soon reached. Imagine the situation of this pioneer family. The nearest neighbor was Mr. Tew, of Townsend, six miles east, separated by a dark and marshy forest. The nearest physician lived at
Fremont, ten miles away. The nearest mill was in Lyme township, Huron county, more than twenty miles away. "Our food," says Mr. Michael Stull, "was chiefly wild meat — venison, turkey and fish in plenty. Salt pork was fifty cents per pound. Our bread was mostly corn.' Michael Stull, the only surviving member of the family, from whom these facts are derived, says that fifty years ago fish were so plenty in Pickerel Creek that he and his brother Jacob speared in one night fifteen barrel: of pickerel. They built a platform of puncheons across the creek, covered it with earth and built a fire at the middle of the stream. The two fishermen, one in each end of the canoe, picked out the fish with their spears as the canoe moved along. Swan were often seen from the cabin door, and geese and ducks could be shot without going out of the way for them. Mr. Stull once killed six deer in one day within three miles of home, and Charles Lindsey shot nine. Howling wolves made night hideous. Sheep required constant watching while pasturing and a high pen at night. Mr. Stull at one time had thirty-three killed in daylight. In five successive nights a common steel trap captured five of these annoying denizens of the forest. After the death of his father Michael Stull came into possession of the farm. He married, in 1829, Diana Baker, of Townsend township. Two children survived infancy — Michael, jr., and Diana, wife of Jacob Brugh.

Jonas Gibbs was one of the earliest settlers of Erie county, having emigrated there from New York in 1808. When Sandusky county lands came into market, he purchased five hundred and sixty acres near the centre of the township, and made an improvement on it in 1824, when he removed from Erie county. His family at that time consisted of five children, viz: Mrs. Cynthia Pierson, Dicie, and Isaac (deceased), Jonas, and Jeremiah; Mrs. William Woodford was born in Riley. This family, being one of the wealthiest as well as oldest, took a leading part in affairs.

Isaac Allyn came with the Gibbs family to Riley. He entered a large tract of land north of the Gibbs farm, and engaged in stock-raising, mostly horses and cattle. He made his home with Mr. Gibbs for six years, and then, having secured a woman of his choice as a life companion, removed to his farm. No better collections of stock could be found in the county than on the farms of Jonas Gibbs and Isaac Allyn.

Christopher Straight, a worthy pioneer of the township, came about 1822. Three families by the names of Markham, and M. Bristol, settled on the school section. Forton Twist was well known in the early settlement. Charles Lindsey came in at an early period, and built a mill on Raccoon Creek.

David Camp, the county surveyor at an early period of the settlement, was one day travelling the trail road coming from Bay-rush prairie, and found two bucks in the trail with horns locked together. One of them was dead, and the other unable to extricate himself Mr. Camp cut the throat of the living one. The heads were cut off with the horns thus locked, and no one was able to separate them, until, about two years afterwards, Hiram Rawson got them apart, but all efforts to fasten them together again in the same manner failed.

Joseph Harris Curtice was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, June 25, 1789. He was a soldier in the War of 1812, and after the war came to Ohio, and was engaged in carrying the United States mail in the southern part of the State for several years, having his home in Cincinnati. He carried the mail in saddle-bags upon horseback. In 1822 he came to Sandusky county and purchased two hundred and sixty-five acres of land from the Government. December 27, 1824, he was married to Cynthia Gibbs. To them were born three children, viz: Betsey, now Mrs. Whittaker, who resides at the old home; John H., who was killed by a run-away team, October 26, 1868; and Cynthia, who died April 14, 1847. Mr. Curtice died May 23, 1868. He was strong, both mentally and physically, to the time of his death. After his evening meal he walked about half a mile to see some stock, returned home and retired to rest feeling as well as usual. About midnight he awoke with a severe pain in the region of the heart, and died in less than an hour. He was widely and favorably known, and in his death the community lost an esteemed citizen.

John Karshner settled in Riley in 1830, having moved from Pickaway county, Ohio. The farm on which he settled is now owned by his son Daniel. The children of John Karshner now living are: Daniel; Mrs. Mary Black, Ottawa county; and Mrs. Sarah Woodford, Riley. Daniel Karshner was born in Pickaway county, in 1822. He married, first, Martha Cooley, and after her death, Lydia Robinson, by whom he has seven children — Franklin, Madison township; Alfred, Riley; Mrs. Clara Sherrard, Ballville township; Mrs. Sarah Plagman, Fremont; Anna, Edward, and Willis, Riley.

The Woodford family settled in this township in 1834. Zerah Woodford, one of the sons, had, however, preceded the other members of the family one year. He was one of the first school teachers in the southwestern part of the township, and was variously employed until 1838, when he married Sarah Karshner, and made a permanent improvement. His children were Lucy, Lovisa, Sarah, Rachel, Henry, Martin, and Charles S., the last named being the only surviving child. He married Jennie Matthews, and has two children, Stewart L. and Estella. The parents of the Woodfords were Sylvester and Sarah, both of whom died in 1834. After their deaths, all returned to Trumbull county except Zerah Woodford and Aurilla (Higbee). William, who was born in Trumbull county, in 1831, May 28, afterwards returned to Riley, where, in 1861, he married Mrs. R. J. Barkimer, and has three children living, Clara J., Alva, and Ada. Mrs. Barkimer had by her first husband one child, Lewis J. Barkimer. Mr. Woodford has been justice of the peace for eleven years. He was appraiser of real estate in 1880, and has held various other township trusts.

George Jacobs was born in Baden, Germany, in 1804. He came to America and settled in Sandusky county, where he now resides, in 1834, being one of the first German settlers in that neighborhood. Seven children are living, viz: Sarah A. (Fronhizer), Riley; George, Missouri; William, Fremont; Caroline (Hughes), Clyde; Mary Ann (Zeigler), Riley; and Charles F., Riley.

Conrad Wonnan removed from Columbiana county and settled in this township in 1836.

William Pierson was born in England in 1806. He came to Canada in 1815, and thence to New York, where he remained till 1836, when he came to Riley and married Cynthia Gibbs, who still survives.

William Harris was born in Columbia county, Pennsylvania, January 16, 1801. In the fall of 1822 he was married to Miss Susan Wagner, of the same county. In the spring of 1837 he emigrated to Ohio, and, after some fifteen years passed in Riley township, came to Green Creek township and settled on a farm near Clyde.

In the southwest part of the township John Faust was one of the first settlers. He was a native of Pennsylvania, settled first in Pickaway county, Ohio, and in 1826 began improving the farm on which he died in 1859, and on which his son Elias now lives. John was a good shot, and enjoyed hunting with all the zest of an ardent youth. Another characteristic was story-telling ability. There was, of course, a class of prosy, matter-of-fact people, who were inclined to look upon his stories as creations of the imagination, but the romance of frontier life (if we are to believe old hunters) transcends the imagination of the present generation. When Mr. Faust tells us that, more than half a century ago, fish in Green Creek, protected from the sun by unbroken shade and secluded by impenetrable forest, were in the habit of leaving the sulphurous water to bask in mellow air, redolent with the perfume of fragrant wild flowers, there is no ground for skepticism. Even when he tells us that these finny creatures sometimes disturbed the peace and quiet of these beautiful banks by fierce and angry fights, what right have we to shake our heads, for who was there to say that such was not the case? There was a popular prejudice against confounding romance with history. The line between the two being crooked and imperceptible at places, we prefer not to approach it, but to keep upon the high ground of fact, even though it is dry and unproductive of that fascinating interest which we are permitted to see in the distant paradise of romance; that paradise is not for the historian to enjoy.

Daniel Schoch and family, from Pennsylvania, settled in Riley in 1836. There were eleven children, of whom Henry, William, Edward, and Mrs. Charles Livingstine are at present residents of Riley. Edward lives on the old homestead. Henry Schoch was born in Pennsylvania in 1819. He married Catharine Longendoerfer in i860. They have one child, Sarah, living, and two deceased. William Schoch was born in Pennsylvania in 1832. He married Lena Schumacher in 1860, and has four children living — Lydia Ann, Emma J., George S., and Charles F. William died in 1880, aged sixteen years.

Cyrus Haff, son of Simeon Haff, was born in 1825, and spent the early part of his life with the family at home in Townsend township. In 1862 he married Julia Clark, and has one child living, Hollis. Mr. Haff resides in Riley township, where he has served several times as trustee.

C. P. Daniels, a son of Jeremiah Daniels, of Huron township, Erie county, was born in Huron county, in 1814. His father was a native of New York. C. P. married, in 1840, Laura Higley, and has three children — Clark, Riley township; George T., Wood county; and Chauncy A., Riley. Mr. Daniels is by trade a carpenter; he is also engaged in farming. He moved to Riley with his mother when thirteen years old, his father having died in Huron county. Of the children of Jeremiah Daniels, there are four survivors — C. P. Daniels, Riley; Sarah (Hinkley), Townsend; George, Riley; and Rachel (Higley), Michigan.

Joseph Haaser was born in France in 1803. He emigrated to America in 1830, and settled in Pennsylvania, where, in 1833, he married Catharine Yost, by whom he had a family of nine children, viz: Elizabeth (Litz), York township; Mary (Baker), Toledo; Barbara (Moyer), Kansas; Catharine (Horn), Fremont;
Joseph, Fremont; Rebecca (Horn), Bucyrus; Frank and Rosa, Riley township; and Augustus, Black Hills. The family settled in Riley in 1841. Mr. Haaser has served his township as trustee. He died June 29, 1881.

Samuel Meek settled on the farm where he now resides in 1848. He was born in Brooke county, West Virginia, in 1806. In 1848 he married Sarah Farber, daughter of John and Elizabeth Farber, who were among the early settlers in Tuscarawas county. She was born in that county in 1821. Her parents came there from their native State, New Jersey, in 1807. Mr. and Mrs. Meek have nine children living, viz.: W. C. and Thomas H., Riley; John, Townsend; Martin L., Wood county; Samuel, James, Elizabeth, Peter, and George, Riley. Several of the family are teachers.

Charles Livingstine was born in the eastern part of Ohio in 1826. He came to this county with his parents, Jacob and Elizabeth Livingstine, and has been residing on his present farm about thirty years. Soon after coming here he married Mary Ann Schoch. They have had twelve children, five of whom are living, viz: Charles Henry, Mary (Vogt), Hattie, John and Robert. Mr. Livingstine has a large farm and is a successful farmer. He has been justice of the peace fourteen years, also served as infirmary director, and in other local offices.

William B. Sanford was born in Ontario county. New York, April 7, 1828. With his parents, Zachariah and Mary Sanford, he came to this county when three years of age, and has since resided here. In 1861 he married Mrs. Permelia Barrett, nee Allyn. They have had three children, one of whom is living — Lois, Almira and Grant. Grant resides with his parents.

James Maurer was born in Pennsylvania in 1823. He came to this county with his father's family in 1830. He married Lydia Faust in 1851. The family consists of three children, viz: Mrs. Maria Mooney, Hancock county; Noah, Riley township; and Simon, Hancock county. Daniel and Phebe Maurer, the parents of James, were natives of Pennsylvania. They had a family of thirteen children, eight of whom are living, namely: James, Riley township; Samuel, Washington township; Jesse, Michigan; George, Washington township; Mrs. Mary Unger, Helena; Jacob, Gibsonburg; Mrs. Isabel Alstatt, and Aaron, Washington township. Adam Lute is a native of Washington county, Pennsylvania, and was born in 1805. He married in Pennsylvania, and has six children living, viz: William, Allen county; Lizzie (Daniels), Clyde; S. M., Riley township; Catharine (Van Buskirk), Riley; Abbie (Smart), Townsend township, and Peter, Townsend. S. M. married Mary B. McConnell in 1869, and has five children.

Gustavus A. Wright was born in Townsend township in 1837, of Vermont parentage. He married, in 1860, Mary A. Gibbs, and has a family of nine children, viz: Hosea, Emma, Lillie, Clara, Martha, Millie, Ida, Frank, and John. Mr. Wright was formerly engaged in the lumber trade, but is now farming in Riley township. He is a son of Gustavus and Julia Wright.

Henry Vogt was born in Switzerland in 1811. He emigrated to America in 1833, and settled in Philadelphia, where he remained till i860, when he came to Ohio, and settled in this township. He married Magdalena Mengold in 1849. The family consists of six children: Henry, Ballville township; Albert and Lizzie, Riley; William, Sandusky; Frank and George, Riley.

The following list of freeholders previous to 1830 is appended, together with the number of the section embracing their lots. Less than half whose names are given, were actual settlers of the township: Andrew Stull, 12; Robert Long, 34; Susannah Sutton, 6; Thomas Sherrard, 30; Robert A. Sherrard, 13; Jacob A. Smith, 20 and 29; William Straight, 14; Samuel Thomas, 31; Henry Vanpelt, 21 and 23; Jac Welchhouse, 19; Isaac Allyn, 2 and 3; Pascal Bisonette, 2; Jacob Bowlus, 21; Ezra Clark, 31 ; Joseph A. Curtice, 15 and 10; John W. Clark, 27; Oscar De Forest, (township 6), 36; Charles De Forest, 1; Gamaliel Fenn, 17; Jonas Gibbs, 9, 10, 4 and 3; John Hindman, 9; Peter Holbrook, 21; G. H. Hopkins, 11 and 14; Jane Hindman, 15; Harriet Hindman, 4; Alexander Johnston, 1, 8, 4, 13, 26, 33, 32, 6 and 27 — 3,360 acres; Isaac Knapp, 5 and 6; John Herr, 30; Isaac Lathrop, 17 and 20; David Lathrop, 22 and 15; John Ash, 6; Julia D. Forest, 12; Julia D. Forest, jr., 1; Coles Forest, 1. Thomas Silverwood entered in 1856, sections 34 and 26, township 6.


What we are about to say under this head might more properly come under the chapter on Townsend township. But the poisonous weed which caused so much sickness and distress grew most abundantly on the eastern bank of Pickerel Creek, within the limits of the township now under consideration. The hardships of improving the fertile soil in this part of the county were increased by this distressing and fatal disease in a greater degree than is imagined by the present generation. The species of grass which made milk a dangerous poison is easily expelled by cultivation and has almost ceased to grow within the limits of the county. The healthy cow that eats it (and cattle are very fond of the young and tender shoots) is apparently little affected. An old settler informs us that he has often seen suckling calves tremble, fall cold upon the ground and die, while no traces of disorder could be detected in the mother animal. People, after in any form using the milk from an affected animal, are usually taken with a chill. The muscles contract and excruciating pain is produced. The disease, of course, takes different forms as it progresses, sometimes settling into a low form of fever and sometimes death quickly ended the suffering patient's pains. In the days when skilled medical aid was scarce, the slightest symptoms of the disease caused well founded apprehension. Whole families, whole neighborhoods, were at times brought to beds of suffering, and many to silent graves. It is not to be wondered at that many left their improvements and sought homes elsewhere while others remained away altogether. Here we have an example of nature's influence upon history.


The early records of the township have been lost, so that it is impossible to give any civil history. The territory was formerly included in Townsend township, which, at one time, embraced Green Creek also.


The first school-house in Riley stood on section sixteen, near the site of the town-house. Caroline Camp taught here a number of terms and was held in high regard. Teaching school in that early day was a profitless employment. The teacher's dependence was upon subscriptions. Comparatively few families lived near enough to the school-house to send their small children and the large ones had too much to do at home to give attention to so "trifling" a matter as "schoolin'." People, too, were poor in those days and could not afford to pay out more money than the home demanded. One dollar a week and board was once considered good wages for teaching.

Zerah Woodford was one of the earliest teachers in the southwest part of the township.

The public-school system went into effect in 1852, since which time good school-houses have been built and public instruction maintained. The number of districts in 1877 was increased from eight to nine, and in 1880 to ten. The generation of men, now almost passed away, deserve credit for the start they have given our educational system. Theirs was a difficult task, being burdened with too many cares and difficulties to give proper attention to matters of culture. Yet they have cleared the way and it is the duty of the present period to see that trained teachers raise the standard of intelligence in every community.


It may seem strange to the young reader why, in a history of this character, the small and seemingly unimportant mills of an early period should receive attention, but those who have experienced the difficulties of pioneer life will look upon the subject in a different light. In a period when people were compelled to travel long distances through marshy forests and across bridgeless streams, with their small grists on the back of a horse, and when at length the end of the journey was reached days were consumed in "waiting their turn," it is not strange the building of a mill in the neighborhood should be hailed as the beginning of a new era, and become an epoch in the history of the community; Going to mill has become but an evening chore; it once required about one-fourth of one man's time to get the grinding done for a family. Nor did the pioneers enjoy the luxury of flaky flour made by the present patent process. The wheat was then crushed between rude, ill-fitting mill-stones, and then sifted by hand through a bolt of coarse canvas. The bolting was done by the man owning the grist. This was a slow process, and it was no uncommon thing for mills to be four days behind, thus giving the neighboring taverns a good business, while the industrious housewife, having scraped clean the flour chest, was feeding her children on the hard crusts of "johnny cake." The manner of going to mill on horseback has already been spoken of. Soft ground and thick woods made packing the only possible method, and frequent streams and marshes prevented heavy burdens. An old pioneer has said that the custom of putting a stone in one end of the bag to balance the grain in the other once prevailed in Sandusky county. While we would not, under any circumstances, be guilty of doubting a statement of a survivor of the days gone by, it must be remembered that some people confuse the location of events. The practice referred to is one of the traditions of Berks county, Pennsylvania, where ancient architects left in the basement wall two cat-holes, one for big cats and one for little cats. It is not probable that the old balancing idea was ever carried into practice in this county. It was hard enough work to get the wheat to mill without the stones.

To Charles Lindsey belongs the honor of building the first mill in the township. It was located on Raccoon Creek, now a stream of no value for water power. While the country was new, marshes and springs kept up an even water supply throughout the year, and although the fall was slight a small buhr was run by an undershot wheel. Grinding at this mill was a slow operation, but it supplied the sparsely populated neighborhood. The saw-mill connected with it was scarcely less appreciated than the grist-mill. Logs afforded very good material for cabin walls, but puncheon floors and doors were great annoyances. It was impossible to fit split puncheons closely enough to keep out cold winds in the winter. Besides, doors were heavy and hard to open and shut, while floors were uneven and lull of splinters. A saw-mill once started, boards took their place, and the interior of these backwoods homes assumed a new appearance.

The Lindsey mill continued in operation until clearings had destroyed the water-power. The framework is still standing.

William and James Beebe built a sawmill on Pickerel Creek during the improvement of that part of the county. It is now owned and operated by Levi Cowell.

Jason Gibbs built the first steam sawmill in the township. He removed it about 1870 to its present location at Riley Centre.

There are at present two grist-mills in the township, both on Green Creek. Eli Faust built the first one about 1845. The second was built by Mr. Schock in 1850.


In this township, as in most other pioneer communities, the first religious services were held in private houses, and these meetings were very infrequent and informal. Attending church is a part of the regular routine of life in old settlements, and the loss to emigrants of the comforting influences of religious ministrations is the cause of much discontent. It is a fact inherent in the nature of things that the conditions in a new country are not favorable to piety. Most emigrants leave their homes and neighbors in the hope of bettering their condition in a financial sense. Money becomes scarce, and the demands upon their time are heavy, so that there are few people disposed to spend sufficient time and money to keep up religious organizations. The few, therefore, who are anxious to hear the gospel expounded must make their own arrangements for it — throw open their own houses and entertain the travelling preachers and missionaries.

The Methodist church may well be proud of its well organized and sensible missionary system. The policy of dividing a sparsely populated district into circuits, and giving all the people an opportunity of occasionally hearing preaching, has been the means of making that church the strongest, numerically, in the State, and entitles it to the distinction of being the most useful religious organization in the country. The first sermon preached in Riley township was at the residence of Mrs. Lathrop, on school section number sixteen, by a Methodist circuit preacher whose name is not remembered. Meetings were very frequently held at this house to accommodate Mrs. Lathrop's mother, Mrs. Bristol, who for sixteen years was both blind and lame. She was a devout Methodist, and was greatly comforted by the preaching and prayers of her brethren. Although the cabin was not large it was amply sufficient to accommodate the small congregations who gathered there. After the erection of the school-house on the corner where the town-house now stands, meetings were held in it.

The first Methodist class, and probably the first religious society of any kind, was organized in Tuttle's school-house in April, 1853, by W. D. Disbro, presiding elder, and Alfred Wheeler, preacher in charge. It was known as Tuttle's class, Clyde mission. The members were Adam Lutz, Elizabeth Lutz, William Lutz, Levi Tuttle, Almira Tuttle, Benjamin Twist, Lavina Twist, Zachariah Franks, Mrs. Franks, and Rhoda Marks. Of these ten first members but three are living — William Lutz, Almira Tuttle, and Rhoda Marks. Services were held regularly in the school-house until 1864, when, on account of having no suitable place to meet, the class went down. In 1869 the class-book was renewed by O. Squires. A formal re-organization took place in July, 187 1, and it was connected with Sand Ridge circuit under the name of "Riley." There were at this time twelve members. A revival was held in 1875 during the ministry of Hiram Royce, which increased the membership and strengthened the cause. Henry C. Martindale and Samuel Lane of the United Brethren congregation, held a joint revival in 1878, which resulted in many conversions and additions to both organizations. Since 1871 the following ministers have served this class and circuit: Thomas Thompson effected the reorganization and remained in charge until the conference appointments in the fall of 1872; T. J. Gard served till the fall of 1873; Hiram Royce till 1875; Hugh Wallace till 1876; H. C. Martindale till 1879; E. L. Smith till 1880, when the present pastor, Charles E. Ruddick, came in charge.

Near the time of the formation of the Methodist society, a class of the United Brethren in Christ was organized by Rev. Mr. Lemmon. No record is extant, but from the recollection of one of the first members we learn that the first members were: Samuel Meek and wife, William Jones and wife, William Van Buskirk, wife and two daughters, Mr. Scouton and wife, and James Walden and wife. Meetings were held in Tuttle's school-house until the. board of directors passed a resolution debarring all religious societies. The resolution compelled the class to meet at the houses of members until the new union church was completed in 1868. This house was built by the joint contribution of both churches. Each church has preaching on alternate Sabbaths, thus giving the community one preaching service each Sabbath. The membership has increased to about forty. It is known as the North Riley class, Bay Shore circuit.

South Riley class United Brethren in Christ had its beginning in a mission which built a log meeting-house in the south part of the township about 1855. The interest gradually increased and the number of communicants grew until, in 1873, a class was formed with sixty members. In 1877 it was deemed advisable to build a new house of worship, but a difference of opinion created dissension. A portion of the congregation, together with other religious professors, founded a society of the denomination commonly known as Albrights, and built a church half a mile further west. These two houses were completed the same year. The South Riley class has now about fifteen members. It is connected with the Bay Shore circuit.

The following heads of families formed the Evangelical or Albright church: Christian Shultz, Daniel Pocock, Jacob Miller, Jacob Stoker, John Gilbert, and Adam Johns. Rev. Mr. Whitting was the minister in charge at the time of organization. Revs. Evans, McMillan and Monk have been the successive pastors since.

The cemetery in the south part of the township was laid out by the Brethren mission but has since become a public burying ground. The population in the south part of the township is largely Lutheran and Catholic. They worship at Clyde.


Truth has made common the expression: "The ingenuity of man knows no bounds." At one time the whole west end of the county was thought a worthless marsh; but cutting down trees and clearing the natural water channels of logs and brush made cultivation possible and profitable. Several thousand acres bordering the Sandusky Bay have always been considered absolutely worthless except for hunting grounds. The experiment of Dr. Robert H. Rice has, however, demonstrated that much of this marsh land can be reclaimed. The device is not new. The fens of Lincolnshire and Holland flats are kept out of the water by similar methods.

The reclaimed farm land consists of about seven hundred acres, and extends from South Creek into the marshes that border the Sandusky River. Only about one hundred acres of this land is covered with timber, but before last year less than three hundred acres was tillable, the remainder of the underwooded section being covered with water, grown deep and green with marsh sedge, a good breeding ground for bullfrogs, and a retreat for mud-hens and solitary bittern. Portions not covered throughout the year with water were frequently inundated by wind tides from the bay. Dr. Rice had for several years entertained the idea of draining the marsh and excluding the wind tides by means of dikes. While in Europe, a few years ago, he made a careful examination of the dikes and drains in the low lands of England and Holland, and on his return home began in earnest to carry into execution his long cherished idea.

In the fall of 1878 he employed ten or twelve Danes living near Port Clinton and at once set to work. For a year they dug in water up to their knees. The ditches were kept partially clear, however, by two large wind-mills. These Danes were familiar with that kind of work and prosecuted it with energy in spite of difficulties which would have baffled native Americans.

There are two trenches from ten to twenty feet wide and three to five feet deep, extending along the lower part of the tract a distance of two miles. The earth from these excavations is banked up on the outside and forms a dike from four to eight feet high. This embankment of compact earth completely dams out the marsh water on the other side and interposes an effectual fortification against the high waves driven by strong northeast winds.

One trench begins on the high ground near the creek and extends in an easterly direction, then south. The other runs parallel and close to the south bend of the first, forming between their dikes an outlet to a swamp in the woods at the south — then takes an easterly direction. The two trenches are connected by a tunnel. The accumulating water is drained into these trenches, out of which it is lifted by machinery. An iron wheel sixteen feet in diameter furnished on its circumference with twenty paddles, which act like buckets, is driven by a ten-horse power engine. By means of properly arranged races the water is driven into the marshes beyond the dike. The wheel revolves seven times per minute and each bucket dips up a barrel of water. The water is therefore poured from the trenches at the rate of one hundred and forty barrels per minute. In ten hours the trenches can be drained dry. This reclaimed land was first cultivated in 1880. Plows were drawn by four horses the first season, but the rich vegetable soil once disturbed becomes a light mold and is easily cultivated. The whole cost was about four thousand dollars.

Biographical Sketches.


Christian Schultz was born May 10, 1820, in Alsace, department of Strasburg, county of Bichweiler, in Oberhoffen, France. When ten years of age he came to the United States with his mother, Mrs. Margaret Schultz, his father having died when Christian was about six months old. He was the only child by the first marriage of his mother. She became the wife of Albert Strawhacker, and bore five other children, of whom three daughters and one son are yet living. With this family his mother came to America, where her husband had gone two years previously. They remained near Kenton, in this State, one year, then came to the southern part of Sandusky county, about one mile west of Green Spring, where Mr. Strawhacker had entered land, and where the family continued to reside.

Christian Schultz engaged in farming until he was about seventeen years of age. Then he entered the mills of Jacob Stem at Green Spring, and continued this employment about twelve years. He commenced work in the saw-mill, but during the last eight years of this time was engaged in running the grist-mill. While at work here, he was united in marriage May 26, 1849, to Anna Longanbach, daughter of George and Anna Longanbach, of Rice township.

In 1856, in the month of November, having purchased a farm, he removed and settled in Riley township, on the place which is still the home of the family. The farm had a few improvements, but Mr. and Mrs. Schultz found work enough to keep them busy. There was only a small log cabin upon the place, and no barn or stable. About forty acres of land had been fenced, but it was not all improved. The land was wet, and remained so until it had been drained. Crops were small; little of wheat or other staples could be raised. During the first few years of his residence here Mr. Shultz devoted a large portion of his time to getting out timber for staves, hubs, spokes, etc., which he sold, and supported the family with the proceeds. During the last few years a great change has been wrought in this part of the county. Twenty-five years ago a trip to Fremont and back was an all-day's journey for Mr. Schultz. The school-house was three-fourths of a mile distant, and during a part of the year it was impossible to get to it with a team, owing to the condition of the roads.

But the log cabins have mostly disappeared, and in their places stand the neat and tasteful residences of to-day, comfortably and even elegantly furnished, and barns and outbuildings, with all modern improvements. The beautiful and substantial dwelling now the home of the Schultz family, was the result of the untiring labor, and constant, progressive industry of Mr. Schultz and his worthy wife.

Mr. Schultz was an energetic man. Though not possessed of great physical strength, he could never endure being idle. Through his efforts and economy he prospered, though very likely his life was shortened by too vigorous exertion.

Mr. Schultz was an honest farmer, a good husband, a kind and indulgent parent, and a respected citizen. In his business transactions it can safely be asserted that he never wronged any man. January 16, 1877, he passed peacefully from this life to the other, a victim of the dread disease, consumption. He had been ill for nearly two years, but through the entire period he manifested a cheerful disposition and uttered few complaints. He was a member of the Evangelical Association for twenty years, and bore the
reputation of being an upright and sincere Christian. Politically he was a Republican, an anti-slavery man and a true lover of his country.

Mrs. Anna Schultz was born in the Province of Wurtemburg, Germany, May 12, 1829. She was the sixth child of a family of thirteen children, eight of whom are living, four sons and tour daughters. Her parents came to the United States in 1836, and settled in Seneca county. New York, where they remained five and one-half years, removing to Rice township, where Mr. Longanbach died in July, 1861, in his fifty-fourth year. Mrs. Longanbach is still living in Sandusky township, at the home of her oldest son, Martin.

To Mr. and Mrs. Schultz were born nine children, five of whom are living. Amelia Margaret was born October 7, 1850; married C. Frederick Jacobs, February 7, 1875; died August 8th, the same year. John Frederick, born December 18, 1852; died January 15, 1854. Ezra Christian, born October 29, 1854; died April 2, 1856. Lydia Ann, born December 23, 1856; died December 23, 1877. Mary Elizabeth, born March 6, 1859. Charles Martin, born May 12, 1861. Jesse Nelson, born February 26, 1863. Ida Elmira, born October 12, 1865. Estella Rosine, born June 24, 1869. Mrs. Schultz belongs to the Evangelical Association. Now situated in a pleasant home with all her surviving children about her, she enjoys the peaceful consciousness that in all things she has striven to do her duty to her family, her neighbors and associates. The Schultz family are well known and respected.


Among the early pioneer farmers of Sandusky county was Martin Zeigler, a native of Hessen, Germany, born in the town of Grunberg on the 3d of April, 1795. His wife, Catharine E. Kruder, was born in the same place on the 23d of November, 1796. With a family of five children, in June, 1832, they took passage in a sailing vessel from Bremen, and after a stormy voyage of seventy two days arrived at Baltimore, Maryland. Here, Martin Zeigler was taken with the cholera, which was then raging in the city. He escaped with his life, but with feeble health, which for some time prevented him from taking active measures for his family's support, and consequently reducing his capital to a considerable extent. They removed to Zanesville, and remained there until 1835, when, having purchased a tract of three hundred and twenty acres of land in Riley township, four miles northeast of Fremont, they settled themselves permanently. A stranger had determined upon the purchase of this land at the same time with Mr. Zeigler. The former, with that intention, left Zanesville by stage, for the Government land office at Bucyrus, on the same morning that the latter started on foot on the same errand. The foot-traveler beat the stage by several hours, and accomplished his purpose before his disappointed competitor put in an appearance. Martin Zeigler was a man of great energy and perseverance, of sterling honesty and uprightness of character. He was of nervous disposition, showing this strongly in his conversation which he always carried on in a remarkably impressive, earnest and most excitable manner. He died at his home July 24, 1867. His wife died in Fremont, February 3, 1879. They reared a family of eight children, all of whom (with the exception of their oldest son, Henry, who was for twenty-five years one of the leading merchants in Fremont), carried on the occupation of farming.

John Zeigler, the subject of the engraving, was born at the residence of his parents, Martin and Catharine Zeigler, in Riley township, on the 15th of December, 1 84 1. In 1865 he married Mary Jacobs, and lived up to the date of his death on the homestead left vacant by his father's demise in 1867. His death occurred in a violent manner on the 15th day of August, 1876. While working in the field on the morning of the last-mentioned date, he was kicked in the abdomen by a vicious horse, and died the same evening, at the age of thirty-four years, leaving a wife and four children. He was an exemplary father and husband and a model farmer. Through hard labor and ceaseless industry he had accumulated a small fortune, and had life been granted him, by the time he had reached middle age he would have been one of the wealthy farmers of that district, as he was then a representative man. Honesty, frugality, and industry are unfailing indicators of ultimate success.


Casper Hirt, a prominent farmer of Riley township, was born the 3d day of August, 1820, at Stilli, Canton Aargau, Switzerland. His parents were in limited circumstances, and had a large family. Under such conditions Casper Hirt concluded, in the year 1848, after the struggle of the Helvetic government, in which he was personally engaged, against her rebellious Cantons (Sonderbund), to emigrate to America, where better prospects are offered a poor man than in his native country. He came to Ohio, but not pleased with his fortune yet, he started about two years after for California. To travel from Ohio to California on foot, over the vast plains and deserts of the unsettled territories was in that time no small undertaking. Having arrived there Mr. Hirt met with fortunate circumstances. Nevertheless he was discontented, and, being fond of travelling, the new reports of very rich gold mines in Australia led him to new adventures. But he was badly disappointed in his hopes. He turned back to California again, but experienced a voyage over the Pacific of great privation and hardship. Gold could not deliver him from the suffering of homesickness. He was longing painfully for his native country. In May, 1854, he reached Switzerland again, and remained at his home until the fall of the same year, and then started, accompanied by a large number of emigrants, for America. After his arrival at Philadelphia he married Miss Fanny Vogt, born November 24, 1826, in Villigen, Canton Aargau, Switzerland. From Philadelphia he came to Ohio, and settled in Riley township, Sandusky county, the present residence of his family. In consequence of his industry, economy, and skill as a farmer, he made rapid progress in the accumulation of an estate. In the summer of 1878, he visited his native land for the second time. During his life he crossed the Atlantic Ocean five times, and the Pacific twice. In politics he was a Democrat. His family consisted of eight sons and one daughter — John Henry, born August 16, 1855, died January 21, 1877; Charles, born February 2, 1857; Samuel I., born August 20, 1858; Anna Maria Eliza, born June 10, i860; Frederick Franklin, born February 18, 1862; Henry Albert, born April 20, 1864; Edward Ursinius, born April 20, 1867; Adolph, born April 24, 1869; Lewis S., born October 26, 1872.

Mr. Hirt was brought up a member of the German Reformed church, and attended its services throughout life.

In the long and severe winter of 1881 Mr. Casper Hirt died (February 3d), in
consequence of a bad cold, which turned into a lung disease, aged sixty years and six months. By his death his family lost a tender husband and father, the township a good citizen, and his neighbors a true friend.

Source:  History of Sandusky County, Ohio with Portraits and Biographies of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers, by H. Z. Williams & Bro., Homer Everett, (c) 1882, pp. 726-740