The most interest seems to cluster about the early or pioneer history of any place. This is not only true of nations, but of smaller commonwealths, towns and cities. The coming of the first settlers has a charm which later history cannot take away. There is something in the early migrations to this county that is still unexplained. Several townships, notably those in the Stillwater region, were largely settled by people from the far south, from North and South Carolina. Why they settled one part of the country and not the other is still a mystery. Monroe Township was settled to a great extent by people from that section of the Union. Monroe is found in the southern tier of townships, bounded on the north by Concord, on the south by Montgomery County, on the west by Union Township, while the Miami separates it from Bethel and Elizabeth, which stretch away to the east. Its first settlers came from South Carolina and when they reached the fertile lands of Monroe they found the Indians in possession, living in primitive villages that sheltered the red tribes of the forest.
Samuel Freeman seems to have been the first white man to break ground in Monroe, which he did in 1801. His habitation was the beginning of house building in the township. From North Carolina in 1802. came John Yount, who entered a choice piece of land at $2 per acre. Next came Michael Fair, who emigrated from Frederick County Maryland, the home of Barbara Freitchie, and he was followed a little later on by John Clark, also of Maryland.
The Clarks were of good stock, sturdy and industrious, and produced a long line of descendants as notable as themselves. David Jenkins left his South Carolina home to begin a new life among the woods of Monroe and with him came Elisha Jones, another son of the Palmetto State. Jenkins being a man of some culture, filled various township offices, all of which he discharged faithfully, winning the respect of his neighbors. Among the other pioneers of Monroe are to be found Thomas Pearson, his three sons Enoch, Jonas and Thomas, Jr., Samuel Pearson, John Jay, Paul Macey, George North, George Kerr, the Laytons, Ferguses, Westlakes, Puterbaughs, Shafers, Furnaces, and a number of others whose name at this late day are not obtainable. The Maceys were from Tennessee, the Norths from Georgia and the Kerrs from Virginia. All these hardy pioneers brought families with them, and these increasing as the years went by, populated Monroe Township with an excellent class of citizens.
In Monroe the settlers found land to their liking. Many settled on Freeman's Prairie, which was situated southeast of Tippecanoe City and opposite the mouth of Honeycreek on the west side of the Miami. The mills to which the pioneers had access were few and far between. They were, very primitive as compared with the mills of the present day. Dr. Asa Coleman in his reminiscences describes one of these mills as follows: "These early erected mills were quite primitive in their structure and material. The mill-stones were generally manufactured in the county, often in the immediate vicinity of the site where they were to be used, of single stones worked out of the large boulders which are to be found on the surface in various parts of the county. Very little iron except the spindle gudgeons and a few bands were used, wood being exclusively used for all other purposes; iron being too expensive and difficult to obtain. These mills from these circumstances were very simple structures calculated principally for the grinding of corn. The first grinding of wheat for flour was very imperfectly done. In some at first the bolt was turned by hand, a somewhat laborious operation, but wheat bread being a rarity the labor was willingly performed. At the time of the organization of the county there were six or seven of these milling establishments in operation. There were Mordecai Mendenhall's on Honeycreek, Henry Gerard's on Springcreek, John Freeman's and John Manning's on the Miami, Moses Coate's on Ludlow Creek, Mast's, Weddle's and Empre's on Stillwater." A number of these sawmills sawed lumber for the first frame houses erected in Monroe Township.
Tippecanoe City, the principal town in Monroe, dates its incorporative origin in the year 1840. It was named for "Tippecanoe," the sobriquet given President W. H. I. Harrison for his defeat of the Indians at the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. It lies in the eastern part of the township, its northeastern boundary being formed by the Miami River. For some years Tippecanoe City had no market facilities, but the building of the Miami and Erie Canal supplied this want and later the shipping facilities were further increased by the Dayton & Michigan Railroad and the D. & T. traction line. Tippecanoe City's first post office was called Hyattsville and Henry J. Hyatt was the first postmaster. Hyatt lived in a log cabin, where he was merchant, tailor and postmaster all in one.
It is said that a division of sentiment prevailed over the naming of Tippecanoe City. A Mr. Jay, who purchased the first lot, wanted the place to bear the appellation of Jaytown, while Mr. Clark wanted it called Sharpsburg after his home in Maryland, but the present name was selected and the discussion ended. The first tavern in the now prosperous town was built by Thomas Krise, who for some years furnished entertainment for man and beast, and he is said to have been an enterprising landlord.
From the very first Tippecanoe City seemed to prosper, owing to the energy of its inhabitants, until now it has a population of almost 1,800. Its first official roster is as follows: Mayor-Levi N. Booker; recorder-E. F.. Shields; marshal-Eli Snell; treasurer-L. Wilcox; councilmen -Thomas Jay, Michael Shellabarger, Henry Krist. From that time to the present the mayors of Tippecanoe City have been I. K. Gilbert, H. H. McCabe, C. W. Wheeler, John Mann, E. T. Shields, T. Kibby, A.H. Wesler, Levi Jay, A. E. Kerns, Ellis H. Kerr, W. G. Fritz, L.A. Sheets, S.E. Smith, B. B. Scarff, G. J. Smith, R.N. Eyler. Messrs. Shields, Wesler, and Kerr filled the mayor's office at different times.
The present city officers are: Mayor-R. N. Eyler; clerk-S.O. Mitchell; treasurer-J. S. Pohlman; solicitor-W. E. Lytle; marshal-C. J. Frost; councilmen-W. H. Clarke, E. T. Davis, G.O. King, Will H. Long, D. W. Prill, L .L. Youart; street commissioner- S.S. Westfall; police-Cris Eickhoff, J. H. Fenner.
Tippecanoe is a noted manufacturing center, but this industry will be mentioned in a special chapter. It has two banks (see "Banks and Banking"), a fine public school, and excellent churches. Ginghamsburg, a village of some local importance, is situated in Monroe Township, with Fredericktown (Fidelity P.O.) and Cowlesville, the latter a cluster of houses on the Dayton & Troy Traction line.
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