Springfield, Ohio

History and Genealogy



First Commercial Enterprise


From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 431


By Oscar T. Martin

The first commercial enterprise was inaugurated by Demint, who some time after his location erected a small still at the foot of the hill below his cabin, and near the present spring-house on the Northern School grounds, and began making "fire-water" for the Indians and settlers. Demint was a rough, reckless man, a type of the class who are always found upon the frontier. In his wife he had a suitable companion, a hard working affectionate woman, who was a help-meet for her husband in the hardships of a pioneer life. Among the denizens of the rocks along Buck Creek, were multitudes of rattlesnakes which were driven from their dens by Demint, his good wife assisting in smoking them out and killing them as they attempted to escape. It is said in one spring they killed ninety of these reptiles in this manner. Jesse Demint, son of James, shot and killed near the rocks an immense panther, which measured nine feet in length, and was supposed to be the last of its race in this vicinity.


The Character of Demint


James Demint, although recognized for his many good qualities, had a passionate fondness for whisky and gambling. He frequently would mount his fine bay horse for a visit to the neighboring towns where he usually indulged in a prolonged spree. On these visits he would supply himself with a new deck of cards, and eagerly engage with any one for small wagers. At one time, he was playing with a man who owned a very fine deck of cards. He took such a fancy to it that he determined to purchase it, but the owner refused to sell, and it was only when Mr. Demint offered him a deed in fee for any lot on the plat of Springfield which he might select, for the cards, that he was induced to part with the treasure. The exchange was made and for the consideration for one of the finest and most valuable blocks in the city, was at one time a gambler's deck of cards. The founder of Springfield died about the year 1817, at the tavern of the Widow Fitch in Urbana. His widow, who was his second wife, afterward married a man named John Rust. He followed teaming between Springfield and Cincinnati, and lived for several years about four miles from Springfield, on the old Dayton raod. The venrable William Patrick, of Urbana, in a letter read at the Clark-Shawnee Centennial, says (Patrick) was an employee about the house of the Widow Fitch at that time, and remember on a summer evening that Mr. Demint rode up and ordered his horse put up, and took a room and would receive such persons as would minister to his chosen pastime, and other amusements. I have said already that he was addicted to drink; I do not mean,however, that he would stagger or wallow in the gutter — he was the of the kind that could drink deeply and not show intoxication. His great mania being for the enjoyment of his cherished game for small stakes, he followed his accustomed amusements at any points in the village that would screen him from the lynx-eyed officers of the law. He would frequently, during his stay, take a nap on a long bench that stood against a partition in the bar room, where, one evening, a little before sun down, the old landlady came to me and told me to wake up Mr. Demint and prepare for supper; and obeying the request, I went to him on the bench and shook him, and called him by name; but he stirred not, and to my horror I found him dead. He had gone to sleep to wake no more. After the bustle and excitement of preparing the body for the cooling board was over, it being nearly 9 or 10 o'clock, John Fitch, the son of the old landlady, approached and asked me who would go to Boston (Springfield) and inform his wife. I immediately answered "I will go," so he immediately ordered the hostler to saddle and bridle the dead man's valuable gelding, and when all was ready he said to me "give me your foot," and immediately vaulted me into the saddle, slapping the horse on the buttock, and adressing me waggishly, said: "Bill be careful that old Demint does not get on behind you." And although I was never subject to superstition, yet for the life of me I could not avoid looking askance occasionally during my lonely and melancholy ride that night, reaching my destination about daybreak, and breaking the sad news as well as I could to his wife. After taking some refreshment she immediately had a horse saddled and returned with me to Urbana, receiving the coffined remains of her husband and returning to Springfield for sepulture immediately."