Springfield, Ohio

History and Genealogy



Griffith Foos' Arrival


From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 432


By Oscar T. Martin

In 1801, Griffith Foos brought several families to Ohio from Kentucky. The Scioto Valley at first attracted them, but, finding it malarious, they determined to seek a more congenial locality. In March, 1801, they came to Springfield on horseback from Franklinton, near Columbus, following Indian trails as their guides.

They had heard from hunters that the Mad River Valley was a healthy and beautiful region, and, when near what is now the county seat, they entered upon an Indian trail which they followed until they reached Mad River. They passed up the valley without observing the Humphrey's settlement, going in the direction of Urbana, until they reached "Pretty Prairie," then changing their course southwestward they followed Buck Creek until they came to James Demint's cabin. The party enjoyed his hospitality for several days, and, after an inspection of the country, expressed themselves well pleased, and as Mr. Demint offered them valuable land at very low prices and stated his intention ot lay out a town as soon as competent surveyors could be procured, Mr. Foos and party concluded to return to Franklinton, where they had left their families and household goods and bring them to Springfield. Four days and a half were requred to move from Franklinton, a distance of forty miles. They made the first wagon track into Springfield from that direction. They were compelled to cut down trees to make a roadway and ford streams. They transported their goods over the Big Darby upon horses, and then drew their wagons over with ropes while some of the party waded and swam by the sides to prevent them from upsetting.


The First Tavern


We now enter more directly into the history of the development of Springfield, as a distinct feature of the county. Prior to June, 1801, the town plat as laid out by Demint was without an occupant. The log cabin on the bluff north of the creek was the only tenement visible, but as Mr. Foos had expressed a desire to locate here for the purpose of going into business soon after his return from the Scioto Valley, he began the erection of a house to be used as a tavern. It was a double log house, and was located on the south side of what is now Main street, a little west of Spring street. In June, 1801, he opened it to the public, and continued it until the 10th of May, 1814. Those were the days of magnificent distances, and the patrons of Mr. Foos lived within a radius of forty miles. On the day announced for the raising of Mr. Foos' cabin, the settlers came from all directions to participate in the festivities of the occasion. A "log cabin raising" was an event of the season. Plenty to eat and to drink, especially the latter, was furnished by the proprietor to all who chose to attend, with or without an invitation, the climax attained by a dance in the evening which continued until the dawn began to glimmer through the trees. Mr. Foos died in 1858, having lived in Springfield over half a century. He saw it develop from a single house to a rapidly growing and flourishing inland town, and peopled by a class of men who were remarkable for their industry, enterprise and culture.


Picnic to Yellow Springs


Mr. Demint did not receive much encouragement immediately after the laying-out of his village plat. His lots were not considered valuable investments, and but few improvements were made thereon for several years. The attractions in the vicinity were appreciated by the residents, but the fame thereof had not as yet spread abroad. The natural scenery at Yellow Springs had been highly extolled by passing hunters. Griffith Foos and Archibald Lowry determined to visit that locality. In the "leafy month of June" with their wives and on horseback they went "picnicking" to the now popular resort. They were prepared to camp out, and, directing their course toward Dayton until they reached Knob Prairie in Enon and turing southeast following an Indian trail which ran in the direction of Mud Run, they came to the Springs, where they remained two days, unmolested by beast or savage, enjoying the beautiful scenery which was then worthy of tedious journey. Its wild luxuriance, unmarred by the encroachments of civilization, made it a subject of the cunning hand of the limner, and to this day, such has been the marvelous beauty of some of its scenery, that it has been transferred to canvas by skillful artists. The excursionists discovered near the river, while rambling through the beautiful evergeens and shrubbery, the deep ravines and rumbling cascades what appeared to be two artificial wells cut in the solid rock about three feet in diameter, and several feet in depth. They were until recently visible a short distance from the Springs.