QUINCY’S EARLY HISTORY
Miami Township in which Quincy lies, was one of the four Townships into which this county originally was divided. It claims a rightful precedence along with the other three (Zane, Jefferson and Lake) in having an important history.
Fertile, with the Stony Creek and Bokengehalas Creeks flowing into the Miami River, the township nurtured the needs of many tribes of Shawnee Indians. The land, once richly forested, was home to wild deer, bear, hogs and turkey. These were a great wealth to the Indians and for the early settlers here.
It is difficult to point out any actual locations of these people who flourished here many years ago, for time has left its scar of unknown and unrecorded history, sacrificing a proud heritage of brave and heroic pioneers to near oblivion. What we do have left are tales of courage of pioneers daring to settle in a land of forest and native men.
George McCulloch is quoted in the Logan County atlas 1875:
“In 1805 I came, accompanied by a negro, from near Urbana for the purpose of erecting a cabin for my father. While thus occupied, the Indians convened a council of war, to determine whether they should resist the enroachments of the white settlers. Tecumseh, the great pacheon of the Shawnee nation, was present and made a speech in favor of war. The council finally decided on peace, and had a great jollification, consisting of a feast, at which was served all kinds of wild meats. The forest was lighted by hundreds of unique candles, manufactured from the fat of the wild beasts killed in the forest. The woods rang with the whoop of the Indians during their war dance. The feast closed after several days. I was there during one night.”
According to the white people of this period, the Indian Village was located on Stony Creek just before it emptied into the Great Miami River. That would place it presently on the northeast slope in the valley where county 63 and 64 meet at the bridge. On the bridge is a bronze plaque which notes the location as Indian Old Town. This is about one and a half miles southwest of DeGraff.
On the west side of Stony Creek a block house was built by one Hiram Curry, formerly of Urbana. The settlers didn’t quite trust the Indians and so the precaution was taken.
Most of the Indians had ceased to live in the area by the period of the War of 1812. The banks of the Miami River and an overland trail which went southeast just east of Quincy toward Urbana were long used by the Indians.
Cyrus Makemson, the son of John Makemson is given credit as the earliest permanent settler because he was born and raised here.
The father of Cyrus (John) came to Logan County, Ohio, from Kentucky. Traveling by ox-team and camping out overnight, he finally reached Miami Township.
John was accompanied by his brother, Thomas, and upon his settlement in 1806 bought a 160 acre farm in Pleasant Township from the Government, and became the first white settler there. At this early date, Indians flourished and John and Thomas were on very intimate terms with them. They traded with them and assisted them in building rude log cabins. The game was rich, but John cared little for hunting while his brother Thomas was a great hunter and killed many deer and bear which gave them food and fur for trade. Although they were on intimate terms with the red men, John often found himself in the midst of Indian raids when other settlers arrived. John was then forced to do his trading at Urbana, at this time a small place with a few log cabins. Many times the Makemsons and their neighbors went to Urbana for safety during the raids. Later, John served in the War of 1812.
John’s cabin was made of round logs, with an open fireplace and mud and stick chimney. It was here he died in 1843.
From his marriage to Margaret Lindsay of Kentucky came seven children. In 1892 the list was: John, deceased; Elizabeth, deceased; Vincent, deceased; Lindsey, Mary, Cyrus, and James, deceased.
After the death of the father, Cyrus took charge of the farm and eventually bought out the other heirs. In 1825 he married Arabella Huber, a native of Virginia, whose union resulted in six children: Emanuel, John, Mary, Margaret, Barbara and Winfield. In 1890 the wife of Cyrus passed away, making him the sole owner of 390 acres of land.
John and Thomas prospered in Miami and Pleasant Township, fighting, fleeing and assisting the Indians. The farm in Pleasant Township was greatly enlarged by Cyrus. Much we owe to John, Thomas and their children. Their experiences could perhaps never be numbered in such a new world.
Aside from the Makemsons, some of the other settlers in 1820 and 1828 whom history has recorded are Newmans, Nicholses, Cannons, Kresses and Spellmans, settling at various points. Among others came John Leach, John Saylor who set up a store near the Champaign County line; Thomas Turner who bought a high bluff on the Miami River and waited for a canal to be built and Dr. Canby who came from Lebanon in 1825 and settled toward DeGraff.
Quincy’s early history began shortly after the War of 1812 and the treaties following with the Indians. The town was located on a high bluff on the south bank of the Great Miami River. Main Street ran along the top of this bluff east and west, and on it were the early homes and business establishments. A bridge crossed the river just east of the present one and a road wound from it eastward and upward to cross Main Street. An old landmark was a wild grape vine planted by Mrs. William Johnson about 1850 which covered and shaded a large area at this intersection for many years.
Early settlers of 1820 to 1828 were the Newmans, Nicholses, Cannons, Kresses and Spellmans. Also about this time came John Leach from Kentuck, and John Saylor who established a store a little south near the Champaign County line and Thomas Turner who bought a high bluff on the Miami River in anticipation of the canal coming through. (It did not get any further east than Sidney and Port Jefferson). Dr. Canby from Lebanon settled toward DeGraff in 1825 and James Baldwin from Virginia located on the site of Quincy.
Dr. Canby built a mill on the north side of the Miami River east of Route 235. The settlers helped build a strong dam of brush, logs and stones. The village was laid out in 1830 by James R. Baldwin and Manlove Chambers. It was nan1ed Quincy in honor of John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States. Incorporation followed on February 9, 1839. The Post Office had been established March 12, 1834 with Jesse Dodson, Jr. as Postmaster. John B. Webb was the second postmaster.
In September, 1831, Mr. and Mrs. John Bell came from Berkeley County, Virginia. The Bells were friends of the Baldwins. Both men were tanners and established tanneries immediately in Quincy. John Bell purchased the first ground in town and quickly put up a log cabin. The first baby girl born in Quincy was Ann Bell (Dorman). She shared her cabin home with her brother, Thomas Bell.
Other settlers who came at the same time the Bells did, were Mock Smith, Thomas Stanage and also Benjamin Cox, who settled west of town. In December, 1831, Jesse Dodson arrived. He built a cabin and added a small room for a store. As his business grew, he and Manlove Chambers formed a partnership, successful for several years. Mr. and Mrs. Dodson were the parents of the first baby boy to be born in Quincy, Philander R. Dodson.
Bell and Dodson are familiar names in the area to the present time. In her old age Ann (Bell) Dorman lived with her brother, Thomas, in a cabin of one large square room heated by an enormous fireplace. A long narrow room across the back was used as a kitchen, and in the memory of Beryl Cloninger Smith, contained a cookstove. Nearby was the town’s famous flowing spring. The location was the lot immediately east and downhill from the present Miami Valley Bank. Mrs. Smith recalls Mrs. Dorman was a rather plump heavy-set lady and that her brother Tom wore a little white goatee (chin beard). They were both “very nice people”. Evidence points strongly to this being their original cabin home. In 1912 Mrs. Dorman gave the words to the pioneer song “This New Country” to Quincy’s Buckeye Press for publishing and it is believed the Bell family had brought this song with them from Berkeley County, Virginia. Mr. Frank Barger supplied the music for the song. All of this information came from Miss Edna Ross, Miami Valley Camp.
After hopes of the canal died, progress was slow until the C.C.C. & I (Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Indianapolis) railroad came through in 1852. Almost three years were consumed filling the area east of town to grade level. All was manual labor with pick, shovel and wheelbarrow. Wooden 4″ by 4″ rails were covered with strap iron. The workmen were mostly Irish immigrants who lived in unsanitary shanties. Some of these contracted cholera and tradition has it they were buried at night west of Dr. Speece’s residence in an old hillside cemetery. This would be about where Route 235 goes beside the school playground today. At least some credence can be given this account as skeletons were dug up on that site at the time of the relocation of the highway. The bones were buried elsewhere.
Quincy was the point at which two portions of the railroad coming from east and west were to meet. A celebration of the meeting was planned with a bountiful picnic prepared by the town women. All was spread out on tables in the railroad park to honor the laborers when a gang of ruffians from Carysville arrived, upsetting tables and food and spoiling the dinner.
Through the early years activity and business had been east and west on old Main Street. If we start east from the intersection with Miami, the location of the Nazarene Church had been an early dwelling, then next was the original Methodist parsonage built by Joseph Eicher, later owned for over 50 years by the Sylvester Cox family and now once again used by the Nazarenes, next door, for their parsonage. On east was a very long three story tavern with a porch to street’s edge. This was used by travellers going west. At about Civil War time the tavern was run by Dr. Moses Pratt and his wife and the wife’s brother, Dr. George Carey.
Dr. Carey conducted a daguerreotype gallery and the pictures were made by Mrs. Pratt’s niece, Miss Carpenter.
Only one or two other houses were located on the north side of East Main St. Later Dr. Pratt moved to a house located where the Harbours now live. Across from the inn stood an original house at street’s edge which first housed Dr. S. E. Leedom and family and was later the home of Mrs. Etna McNeal until about 1940. Wm. Douglas tore away the old structure and he and Lillian built a modern home on the site.
On the north-west corner of Main and Miami was located a large L-shaped building extending north to the alley. In 1845 W. and D. Josephs, two enterprising men, set up a small store. They began to buy grain and were very successful for 10 or 15 years, at times having every available empty building in Quincy, full of grain. Due to the uncertainties of the markets and transportation, the business suddenly failed, dropping the town’s financial prosperity for awhile.
Further down on Miami Street, at the alley, was located a hotel. On the south side of the street was first a two story building built by George Means and in it he and Samuel Leach conducted a furniture and undertaking establishment. Later by the alley Tommy Leach and his wife, Minnie, built a new home. In recent years, this was to become the Methodist parsonage, as it lay directly behind the church.
The main business section in Quincy shifted in time to Miami Street which, during the early advent of the automobile, was State Route 69. It was quite a crowded and busy business district until the highway was located clear through on Carlisle Street down to the Miami River and crossing on a cement bridge a little west of the old iron bridge.
June 8, 1872, Quincy’s worst catastrophe struck in the early evening. Dr. Speece, who resided directly north of the present school on what is now playground, wrote a vivid account for the local newspapers. About 6:00 P.M. he and a friend were sitting in front of his office downtown, when some persons down at the depot were calling and pointing to the West. They saw the black funnel cloud, closed the office door and joined the others running south across the railroad to escape. Just west of town was cleared ground and as it came out of the trees into that area it seemed to increase in velocity. It was hour glass shaped with the bottom part much narrower than the top part. As they were running, they saw tree-tops, fence rails, boards, shingles, fence-posts and all kinds of debris sailing and whirling savagely in the darkened air. Dr. Speece and his companions had gone perhaps 25 yards when they saw the houses and everything in the west and northern part of town going down before the tornado. They lay in a ditch and before they could get up again it had gone on eastward, leaving desolation in its wake. He described the noise as greater than 40 trains of cars running at full speed could have made. The air was black as far as the eye could see with roofs, beams, furniture, clothing, pillows, beds and everything imaginable. In a moment the whole calamity had come and gone.
The track of the storm was about 50 yards wide and fully one half Quincy was completely or partially destroyed. Dwellings, stables, fences, trees, everything in its way, were carried off instantly.
The Baptist Church on the corner of South Street collapsed and was one mass of ruin. The Methodist Church a little further east went down in a heap. Jonathan Cost’s house was demolished. Will Cloninger and Tom Patton were the heaviest losers in town. Mr. Custenborder estimated his losses at between $3000 and $5000. An appraising committee was to ascertain the losses as many people lost their all. It was thought the total loss would probably be $20,000.
Mrs. Rose Glick was on the sidewalk and was so terribly broken and bruised that she died the next day. Injured included two members of Dan Clark’s family, five members of the E. K. Harvey family, Mrs. Rodgers suffered a great cut on the head from a falling timber, Will Johnson was seriously hurt as his shop fell on him, Joe Chambers was dashed and bruised against the fence and his little son, Frank, was buried in the Cooper shop, escaping with shoulder and arm wounds.
Curious happenings and narrow escapes were recounted. Henry Kiser’s house was completely destroyed with the foundation stones blown down the hill, yet he stuck to the shanty without a scratch. Will Cloninger’s blacksmith shop collapsed around him but he was dug out with only slight bruises by Cudge •Webb. A horse and buggy, tied to a rack on Miami Street, were blown into the end of a building but were taken out of town three hours later, unharmed. Mrs. John Bell was blown into her garden and, although she felt things thumping her, was not aware of her injuries until the next day.
Tom Rawlins had some square pieces of timber sticking through his bedroom. Allen Berry started to run home, but before he reached it, all went up in a whirl. His wife and babies ran out to meet him unharmed.
Mr. Custenborder hurried his family into the cellar, while he went into the garden. All were unh.urt, as were his horses when they were dug out of the barn wreckage.
Dr. Speece’s sister was living with her children in the western part of Quincy. The house was perforated with timbers and the windows blown in, but the family was not harmed.
The setting sun cast a sickly glare over the town. The sight was appalling. People were pouring out of their homes, children in arms, wringing hands, some calm, some terror stricken, others screaming.
It was late that night before resting places had been found for half the town and quiet restored.
Dr. Speece’s first impulse had been to run westward toward his home, but his friend, Deacon Hubble said, “No, it is certain death to attempt it. Run to the south.” They did, and escaped, as did their families.
The Baptists considered it God’s will their church was destroyed and never rebuilt but joined with the Methodists. The frame Universalist Church, several houses east of the Methodist Church, was useable, so the Methodists moved into it until a new brick church was completed, on the present church site, and for many years it remained the only church in town.
Friends from other towns sent in supplies and came in to help in the rebuilding.
In 1893 another railroad was built adding greatly to the commercial value of the town. The Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad came from the north by way of Lima and continued south by way of Springfield. Since it originally carried passengers, this added greatly to the mobility of the townspeople. There was an extensive bridge across the Miami River northwest of town. It was a massive steel structure 90 feet high and, since it was at the time the highest in the state, excursion trips came from north, south, east and west to view it and then enjoyed the rest of the day at the Riverside Amusement Park, on the north side of the river, around the tum of the century.
In 1889 the first telephone in town was installed as a pay phone in the William Lamb general store. Somewhat later, an exchange was installed upstairs in the southwest corner room of the Terell Building, where Almeda Campbell presided over “Central” for many years.
Although the March 1913 Flood did much more damage to the low-lying cities downstream on the Miami River, there was much worry in Quincy about keeping the roads open and especially to save the iron bridge across the river right at the Allinger Mill. When the waters were cresting, it is related that Van Hubbell, who owned the drugstore, urged the Newman brothers, who were quite strong, to fend away debris which was piling against the bridge. A whole night’s heavy labor was repaid by the thankfulness of the town people the next day when the water slowly began to recede.
The first Board of Health was established in Quincy in 1885 when Tom Bell was Mayor.
Around 1887, Quincy had sunk two gas wells which yielded quite well for a while and many residents used gas for lighting in their homes and the village used it for lighting the streets. After about three years they were disappointed as the yield slackened and gas had to be given up.
In 1906 cement sidewalks were built replacing Berea stone downtown and gravel elsewhere. Shade trees were still lining the streets and those downtown had to be sacrificed to progress. Dr. J. A. Hubbell was mayor.
After the failure of gas lighting, the Village was lighted by kerosene lamps. “Uncle Joe Dovel” was the “lamplighter” who kept them filled and cleaned and lighted at night fall.
In 1917 an election was held, wherein electricity was approved for the lighting of the whole community. August, 1918, saw the town electrically lighted under A. 0. Fitch, Mayor.
Water works were installed in 1947, nine years after the community had voted favorably for a \WA sponsored project. World War II intervened and the village “did it themselves”.
ln the sixties during Charles Brown’s administration as Mayor, the Dayton Power and Light surveyed the town for possible users of natural gas. The result; there were not enough potential users to warrant the installation.
About this time the Town Hall was remodeled and a fuel oil furnace was installed. The walls were paneled and the floors refinished. This was a much needed project.
In 1969, a railroad spur, a connection between D.T.&I. and Penn Central railroad, was built. The house of Harold Webb was razed in the construction of the spur.
Also in 1969 was the beginning of many discussions on the sewage system of Quincy. The Mayor at this time was Charles Brown and Clerk, Carolyn R. Dorsey. They, along with Council members, gave many hours of their time. They contacted all property owners to collect $25.00 from each one to conduct a survey for feasibility of a sewage system in Quincy. This was to be a joint system with DeGraff, and an F. H. A. project. Later in 1969, Mr. Brown resigned as Mayor and Foster Evans, President of Council, became mayor and worked with his council members and clerk on this project, which was completed in 1974. The council members at this time were Floyd Finfrock, Clarence Harbour, Herman Allinger, Emmett Ceylor, Thurman Coyer, and Kenneth Short. Later, Gary Bell, Dorothy Thacker and Robert Dye Jr. served on the council.
A new building was erected in 1971 at the park, to house the village equipment. The concession stand at the park was remodeled in 1974.
A new street was added to the south end of Quincy in 1973. Several new homes have been built on it. The name given the new street, after much discussion, was Foster Street.
The land that was purchased and unable to be used as sewage facilities was put to good use as a conservation park. Many science students and scouts helped plant trees on this site in 1974. The park makes a nature study for the students of Riverside Schools.
In 1975 the Water Board, composed of Junior Bell, Junior Helmandullar, and Marvin Cox, paid off all bonds on the Village water works construction consisting of 3 wells and 3 pumps. Foster Evans was Mayor at this time.
A new police cruiser was purchased in 1975. The Village is trying to up-date the police facilities in Quincy.
On July 3, 1975, a severe wind storm hit Quincy at 5:00 P.M. Many trees were destroyed and damaged. Some homes were also damaged. It seems as though God’s protecting arms were around Quincy, as no one was injured. Several days of clean up and restoring electric and telephone lines followed. The people of Quincy again proved that they can be counted on in time of need.
Land for a new fire department was purchased from Robert Rowley in 197 5. The house was removed from the lot, marking the loss of another older home in Quincy.
The Street signs in the Village were getting rusty and damaged. In 1975 the Village ordered and installed new signs.
R. H. McCann (Herschel) is the Water and Sewage Supt. and devotes many hours for the benefit of Quincy.
Our ball park is one to be proud of. Floyd Finfrock (a council member and chairman of the park committee) has donated many hours of his time on beautifying the grounds and keeping the park in good shape. Congratulations Floyd!