By Joan Baxter
Do you know how many Townships comprise Greene County and can you name them? There are actually 13: Bath, Beavercreek, Caesarscreek, Cedarville, Jefferson, Miami, New Jasper, Ross, Silvercreek, Spring Valley, Sugarcreek, Xenia and Tecumseh.
Tecumseh Township? Yes, it is the only Township which has no Township administration, rules or regulations because that Township is confined to the City of Xenia. The borders and administration are under the direction of Xenia City.
Greene County officially became an Ohio county on March 24, 1803. The East-West dimensions are similar to those of today, with the Southern boundary unchanged. The Northern border of Greene County did not stop until it reached Lake Erie and the Northern border of the State of Ohio.
Since very early settlers often came by some sort of boat, the area closest to the Oho River was settled first. As land became available, the settlers began to move further north. When enough male settlers lived in an area, that group could petition the state to become a county.
Three associate judges were appointed to oversee the task of establishing the layout of the county and a few laws. Today those judges are called commissioners. One of the first items on the agenda was to establish townships within the county. The judges met May 10 and divided the county into four townships: Beavercreek, Caesarscreek, Mad River and Sugarcreek.
Mad River Township was established along the northern portion of Greene County. The southern limit was along what became the National Road and then extended north to Lake Erie, although apparently there were no settlers living north of Urbana. When Clark County was established in 1818, Mad River Township was no longer a portion of Greene County.
Caesarscreek Township lies wholly within the Virginia Military District. Prior to the Revolutionary War, Virginia claimed all the land west of the Ohio River. After the war, the state agreed to relinquish the territory to the United States government with the exception of a section which became known as the Virginia Military District. Soldiers who fought in the war were guaranteed land in return for their service. Not every soldier wanted to locate to such an untamed wilderness so they sold their rights to speculators who in turn sold the land to prospective settlers.
Local legend says a slave by the name of Caesar was accompanying the George Rogers Clark army which was preparing to invade Old Chillicothe. Caesar ran away, warned the Shawnee Indians and was eventually adopted into the tribe. According to the legend Caesars Creek is named for him.
Quaker David Painter came about 1800. Painter’s Creek is named in his honor. A Friends Society was quickly established with David as one of the organizers. Soon there were two stores, one owned by Jesse Painter, son of David. Jesse commissioned the County Surveyor to lay out a town on his 150 acre farm in 1837. The village of Paintersville is named for Jesse – the Proprietor. Thirty-three lots were sold for $20 to $25 each. By 1851, the town had 150 citizens.
Not every proposed village actually came into being. The town of Caesarsville was laid out in 1800, in anticipation of it becoming the county seat, but when Xenia got the honor and the town was never developed.
Other proposed villages included Winchester or Babbtown for Thomas Babb. This was located on US Route 68 just after the road crosses Caesars Creek.
Godfrey Brown, born into slavery in 1768, bought freedom for himself in 1820 and for the family in 1822. In March 1822, he purchased 254 acres of land for $1,000. He and his sons constructed log homes along with a church. This was the first African-American Baptist Church established in Ohio. Because the site was located between the runs of two creeks, he named it Middle Run Baptist Church. He and his family are buried at the original site and now the church is located in Xenia.
About 1825 John, James and Thomas Middeton secured a track of land near the present intersection of US Route 68 and Paintersville-Spring Valley Road and raised their families and the site became known as Middleton’s Corner.
The first school, established in 1825 by John Maguire met In the New Hope meeting house. Children attended school for three months each year in the log cabin with a puncheon floor, a huge fireplace and greased paper windows. By 1870, there were seven schools in the township. In 1918, one room schools included Paintersville, New Hope, Eleazor, Maple Corner, Needmore and Babbtown. Caesarscreek High School was constructed in 1908 but the class of 1930 was the last to graduate as it then became an elementary school. The property is now privately owned.
The land has been described as largely clay, but fertile enough for corn, wheat, oats and rye. The land is also considered desirable for grazing cattle and sheep, and was one of the best hog raising districts in the county until in 1917 a cholera epidemic infected 27 farms with a loss of several hundred hogs.
Today the area’s major industry is farming. Fields of corn and wheat along with silos and barns dot the peaceful landscape of one of the four original townships in Greene County.
Joan Baxter is a local resident and long-time historical columnist.