By Thomas Palmer
This is a new series on 1812Blockhouse, “It Happened in Richland.” From time to time, we will be sharing interesting tidbits of Richland County history or, as in this post, a series relating to one topic.
As local historians know, the County’s boundaries changed more than once in its first decades. To the west, this meant that places like Crestline and Galion were established not in Crawford County, but in Richland. In turn, this means that much of the very early history of those communities was tied to Mansfield, not Bucyrus.
In this short series, which runs each Friday, we will look at an even earlier settlement that was lost to history until it was “rediscovered” in the Richland County Courthouse.
“The family is the nucleus of civilization.” — Will Durant
It is not entirely clear how word got out that Sandusky Township was an ideal destination for relocating settlers.
Letters back home undoubtedly played a part. Whatever the prompting, communication apparently happened quickly as the very next year saw others reach the area and make it their home.
During 1818, the first new families arrived — George and Mary Wood from Westchester County, New York, and the family of the Wood’s daughter Catherine and her husband David Gill, Jr.. 1 The Woods came from the same community in New York State as the Leveriches (they actually appeared on the same census page in 1790). Gill, however, was from a family of Quakers residing in Chester County, Pennsylvania, suggesting that he and his wife met during their emigration to Ohio.
These families, like many of those who followed, saw marriages between sets of siblings. It is thought that two of George Wood’s daughters, Sarah and Martha, for instance, married two of the Leverich sons, John and Nathaniel.
What follows is a list of ten heads of household known to have settled in Sandusky Township between 1818 (after the Leveriches) and 1828 and who at some point were associated with the community of Greensburg. Also included is what information on each has been discovered to date; in some cases, only the father’s name is known based on census and property records.
It is entirely possible that some if not most of these names will be unfamiliar to you. Here is your opportunity to get acquainted.
FREDERICK DAVIS DICKERSON
+Born May 19, 1781 in Virginia
+Died November 1, 1860 in Richland County — buried in Mansfield Cemetery
+Spouses (2) — Martha Leverich Dickerson, daughter of Benjamin Leverich; also Martha Bell, likely related to Benjamin Bell.
+Residence — In 1822, lived on the current Gill House property, “just at the foot of the hill” (where today’s Harding Way West levels off moving west from Uptowne Galion) 2
CALVIN TRENTON DORWIN
+Born August 28, 1795 in Lanesborough, Massachusetts
+Died about 1885 in Root Township, Adams County, Indiana
+Spouse — Francis Belle Dickerson Dorwin, daughter of Frederick Davis Dickerson
+Postmaster, Galion from 1832–1843
+Occupation — Teacher, Surveyor, Justice of the Peace
+Moved to Adams County, Indiana by 1850
+Residence — Moved in 1814 to Wadsworth, Medina County
+Possible mother of Samuel Ferrell, who had first recorded will in Marion County; if so, would be Martha Cobb Ferrell (1777–1843), widow of Enoch Farrell
DAVID GILL, JR.
+Born October 12, 1781 in Chester County, Pennsylvania
+Died 1849 in Galion
+Spouse — Catherine Wood, daughter of George Wood
+Occupation — Schoolteacher
JOHANN HEINRICH HERSHNER
+Born February 12, 1776 in York County, Pennsylvania
+Died June 24, 1850, buried in Middletown Cemetery off of State Route 598, north of Galion
+Spouse — Elizabeth Ruhl
+NOTE — Granddaughter married Lt. Robert Cowden, Galion Civil War veteran and Postmaster
JOHANNES A. RUHL
+Born August 22, 1769 in Glen Rock, York, Pennsylvania
+Died February 24, 1845
+Spouse — Maria Margaretha Gerberich
+Born April 24, 1781 in New York
+Died January 8, 1873 in Galion, last burial in old Main Street Cemetery
+Spouse — Elizabeth Leverich, daughter of Benjamin Leverich
+Residence — For some time lived in the “Williamson Settlement,” east of Galion
+Born 1770 in Westchester County, New York
+Spouse — Mary Ames
+Daughter Sarah married John Leverich
+Daughter Catherine married David Gill, Jr.
There are others, not included above, who came to this general area but have not been identified directly with Greensburg, either through residence or other involvement. Cases in point: The Hosford family reached Sandusky Township in 1819 and would have a substantial impact on early Galion; and the Ruhl family has not been included on this list, although they will play a large part in what happened after 1828.
The next installment of The Story of Greensburg will look at questions posed by Dr. Bernard Mansfield in The Olentangy Legacy and how what we have considered so far helps answer them.
1 At least one source claims that the Woods and Gills arrived together with the Leveriches in 1817. Another states that Wood and Gill were brothers-in-law, not father-in-law and son-in-law.
2 The Olentangy Legacy, Volume 1. It was recorded that the first Gill house which was constructed here in the 1840s incorporated parts of an older log structure. That 1840s house was moved to 125 Gill Avenue when the current Gill House was built, and incorporates part of the original house — which means, in turn, that part of Dickerson’s original house likely survives to this day.