In writing the history of Union Township one must go south to discover its fountain head. The tide of emigration that flowed northward from the Carolinas broke upon the shores of the Stillwater and populated Union. When that vast area lying west of the Miami, and which for a time was known as Randolph Township, was cut up into five smaller divisions, Union became one of these about 1807. It is bounded on the north by Newton Township, on the south by Montgomery County, on the east by Concord and Monroe Townships and on the west by Monroe Township in Darke County. It is traversed by the Stillwater in the eastern part, while two branches of Ludlow Creek and other streams water its large area. There being no finer land "out of doors" it is no wonder that the first white men who penetrated to this region concluded to make it their home. In the year 1801 Henry Fouts and the two Ellers, Leonard and Adam, settled in Union Township in the very heart of the "forest primeval." They had looked at other land, but found the region of the Stillwater to their liking. The next year came Caleb Mendenhall with his family of six, and he was followed by John Mast and Frederick Yount. The last named located a mill site and for a while supplied the settlers with flour and ground meal. In 1804 David Mote, Sr., with five stalwart sons, settled in Union. They chose the western part of the township, while east of the river received Leonard and William Fincher, William Neal, Benjamin Pike, Jacob Byrkett and others. The Motes led the vanguard of Quakers who settled in Union Township, a class of people who have given to this county much of the stability and prosperity it now enjoys. These people, quiet, unobtrusive and strictly honest, are found all over Union Township, forming within themselves a class noted for its integrity. The descendants of the first Quaker residents have filled many positions of trust and are numbered today among the foremost citizens of the county. The year 1805 found Samuel Jones in Union Township. He emigrated from Georgia, as did Abiather Davis, who brought with him to the fine lands on Stillwater four sons and three daughters. In the same year Newberry District in South Carolina sent a little colony of Quakers into the township, among whom were Isaac, James, George and Nathan Hollingsworth. Elislia Jones, a chairmaker, came in 1807, having been preceded a year previous by Joel Hollingsworth, another Quaker. Joel was a man of both ingenuity and business, for he built flatboats upon Stillwater and transported his own produce to New Orleans, making quite a little sum by the operation. It is stated that upon one return trip Mr. Hollingsworth brought home a telescope, a wonderful thing in those days. Neighbors came from far and near to inspect the wonderful instrument and for months it was the newest thing under the sun. One cannot help noticing the stalwartness of the first settlers of Union Township. They were men of powerful physique and people of more than the average culture and perseverance. For instance Isaac Hasket rode horse back from South Carolina, accompanied by his wife and child, and many others followed his example. He was a blacksmith whose forge was always aglow and his hands and skill turned out all sorts of farming impalements, including sickles in profusion. There were no keener sickles in the Stillwater Valley than those he fashioned and the bearded grain went down before them in a marvelous manner. So rapid was the settlement of Union Township that it is asserted that two large Friends or Quaker settlements in Georgia and South Carolina were almost depopulated to furnish inhabitants in this section. The tide of immigration rolled resistless this way for several years or until Union Township was almost entirely populated with Quakers. When the township came to organize itself into a body politic it chose Samuel B. Edwards as clerk. He was a man not calculated to make the best possible officer, but something had to be done and he was selected. He served but one term and the people seemed glad to exchange him for another elector. John Coate is said to have been the first duly elected clerk. Settled as it was by people of decided worth, Union Township soon became a recognized branch of the county's existence, a position which it holds today. It is noted for its liberality in everything, for thrift and industry. Its principal town is West Milton or Milton, as it was first called. The town was named for John Milton the English poet, and it is said that "Paradise Lost" held such a sway over the mind of a fair daughter of Union Township that she managed to have its chief town named for her favorite author. West Milton, with a present population of over 1,000 is situated on the west bank of the, Stillwater. The site of the town was selected by Joseph Evans, who came from the Newberry District, South Carolina. He was so pleased with the location that he resolved to establish a village at this point. The first lots were sold in 1807. For years the village had a sluggish growth, and as late as 1825 but three families occupied the site, but in course of time the village took on new life and began to assume considerable proportions. Oliver Benton became the first postmaster of West Milton and added the occupations of merchant and justice to his other one. He owned the only store in the town and wagoned his products to Cincinnati. As the town grew, manufacture was encouraged, a carding machine was set up, and a woolen mill followed. Samuel Kelley was the proprietor of the mill, but in 1820 he sold out to David Thayer, who wove blankets there. In 1824 a scythe factory was established at West Milton and the manufacture of linseed oil became an infant industry there in 1819. Not until 1840 did the town get an outlet by turnpike, when the one from Dayton tapped the place. Years afterward the railway came and now, besides this convenience, West Milton is tapped by the Dayton, Covington and Piqua Traction Line. About 1834 the prospering town took out papers of incorporation and C. W. Beebe was called to fill the first mayor's chair. Today the town of West Milton has two prosperous banks, a number of manufactories, a fine school, excellent and commodious churches, well paved streets and handsome business blocks and dwellings, all of which go to make it one of the foremost towns in the county. Its future is bright, for its citizens take an interest in everything that goes to make it prosperous and influential as a town. The present official roster of West Milton is as follows: Mayor- W. O. Martindale; clerk- Charles E. Fox; treasurer- Philip Yount; marshal- Cyrus Long; councilmen-David Stoltz, E. M.. Crew, Oren Coates, A.G. Eidemiller, Smith Gassett, Cyrus Folkerth; board of education-Gainor Jennings, John Henderson. The villages of New Lebanon and Laura are situated in Union Township. The former has a population of 250, the latter, 400. The picturesque hamlet of Ludlow Falls, near the beautiful cascade of the same name, is a promising place. New Lebanon, or Georgetown, was laid out in 1840. It has a German Baptist Church, and the post office is Potsdam. Laura, named for the daughter of its first postmaster, was incorporated in 1892, and is a well conducted, thriving town. It is officered at present as follows: Mayor- Robert Wylie; clerk- Arthur Hess; treasurer- George Swisher; marshal- Milton North; councilmen-Ellis Lowery, William Coate, Charles Hall, Urias Netzley, Benjamin Welbaum, Hervey Cassell.
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