Miami County, Ohio Genealogical Researchers -- Sponsored by the Computerized Heritage Association

Copied from Harbaugh's 1909 History
of  Miami County Ohio


The southeastern most division of the county, called Bethel Township, will finish this account of the twelve little commonwealths that make up the body politic of the county proper. The boundaries of Bethel as formed by the county commissioners at their first meeting have never been changed. The first settlement of the township goes back to the life of the Dutch Station at Staunton. One Thomas Stockstill, a Tennesseean, who became disgusted with the system of slavery which prevailed in the South at the close of the eighteenth century, left his father's roof and finally settled in the northeast corner of the township. It was probably the first actual settlement in the county, as it was made in 1790. Stockstill came north as a youth; growing to manhood among the woods of Bethel and lived to become one of the township's most useful citizens. After Stockstill's coming, others, attracted by the beauty of the land in Bethel, erected homes there and opened up the region. Among these were David Morris, Sr., a New Jersey man; Robert and John Crawford, Samuel Morrison, Mordecai Mendenhall, John Ross, Daniel Agenbrood, the Saylors, Puterbaughs, Claytons, Ellises, Studebakers and Newcombs. Some of these people were of the Dunkard persuasion, a class of inhabitants noted for their honesty, good habits and worth. This little colony soon made Bethel Township one of the most desirable in the county, and their presence there induced other immigrants to share their fortunes. They represented several of the original states of the American Union

Bethel Township experienced certain hardships which were not visited upon her neighbors. Lost Creek Township suffered during the famous cholera epidemic, but Bethel fell a prey to fever and other diseases, owing to a poor system of drainage in the marshy region in the northeast corner of the township. This state of affairs discouraged some of the most hopeful of the population. There were few doctors those days, and they were of a school not very progressive. Then they were few and far between, and the various diseases spread so rapidly that for a time the mortality was very great. The lance and calomel were the stock in trade of the old physicians and they were ever administered without stint and to the detriment of the sufferers. At one time it looked as though a portion of the township would be depopulated. The few carpenters within the disease belt transformed themselves into undertakers, and night and day they were busy burying the dead. No system of embalming was known. To the credit of the self-constituted undertakers be it said that they refused compensation for their services. At last the low lands were drained, and almost like magic the sickness disappeared, but it had populated many a little cemetery and filled more than one community with mourning.

Besides this strange death sickness, Bethel Township experienced during her early history some trouble with Indians. The savages found excellent lurking places among the hills that are to be found in some parts of the township, and from these they made frequent incursions into the neighboring country. On one of these occasions a young girl named Hacker was overtaken, scalped and left for dead on the ground. She was found in an unconscious condition after the departure of the Indians and conveyed to her home. The victim of the assault not only recovered, but raised a new crop of hair, and also a family. In course of time the Indian demonstrations ceased and the inhabitants of Bethel Township enjoyed a long period of peace.

BRANDT and WEST CHARLESTON are the largest villages in Bethel Township. The former is situated on the famous National Pike and contains about 200 inhabitants. It was founded in 1839. Being some distance from a railroad, it has not made the growth it otherwise would have done. John Dinsmore was the first tavern keeper in Brandt, which place was at one time famous for a plow factory installed by Wilmington and King. When the building of new pikes became one of the features of Bethel Township, the old National Road fell into disuse and much of the former glory of Brandt vanished. It has now several stores, a post office, one or more churches, and several nurseries which have more than local significance.

West Charleston is one of the oldest towns in the county and was laid out by Charles Friend in 1807. The town lies on the Troy and Dayton Pike, which road, it is asserted, was originally cut out as a trace by General Wayne. For some years West Charleston maintained considerable importance, but when it came to be missed by the canal and the railroad, it lost much of its former prestige and developed into a quiet village. Today it contains probably 200 souls. Not far away are found the "Charleston Falls, which of late years have become a summer resort for the contiguous country. The "Falls possess much natural beauty and are contiguous with some of the most interesting legends of Bethel Township. In concluding the history of the townships of Miami County I have been briefer than they deserve. Much could yet be told concerning them. Some of their statistical history will be found in another part of this work. Perhaps in no other county in the, state is there a history so interesting as ours. During the first century of its existence Miami County has made prodigious strides along the highway of progress, and to this glorious consummation may proudly take for its motto the phrase the several townships have worked in unison Each township within our borders may proudly take for its motto the phrase "Imperium in imperio."

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