Springfield, Ohio

History and Genealogy



Steady Growth of the Village


From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 446


By Oscar T. Martin

Having briefly sketched the lives of some of the principal characters who were identified with the foundations of the future city, whose names are inseparably connected with its infant growth and development, and whose patient endurance, enterprise and sagacity gave it an impulse which has been repeated by their descendants in later years, we may return to a more detailed narration of the progress which was steadily made. All the difficulties which were common to the settlements on the frontier were the lot of the young village. The facilities for intercourse with the world beyond were limited, markets were few and inaccessible, material for the erection of buildings and machinery for the manufacture of articles of necessity were not to be had. The danger of incursion from the savage tribes kept the whites in a constant state of alarm, and prevented the immigration which would have been gladly welcomed. but, not withstanding these difficulties, the little cluster of log cabins on the east fork of Mad River began to stretch along the slopes.

A post office, with its weekly mail carried on horseback from Cincinnati, was, according to the official records at Washington, established in 1804, with Richard McBride as the first Postmaster. There seems to be a discrepancy between this statement and the recollections of some of those whose memories run far back into the early years, who assert that no postoffice was established until 1814, and that Robert Rennick was the first Postmaster. He kept the office in his mill on Buck Creek, and subsequently in a little cabin that stood a short distance west of the Republic Printing Company's building, on Main street.

The architectural demand for improvement upon the unsightly log cabins was first met by Samuel Simonton who began in May, 1804, to erect a two-story frame house on the northeast corner of Main and Factory streets. When this building was in the progress of erection, a tornado, but thirty yards wide, came sweeping over the place from the southwest, taking a northeasterly direction until it struck this house, when it changed to an easterly course. So violent was the storm that the upper story was badly injured, which induced the owner to reduce its height to one story, and postpone its completion until the following spring. Several log cabins in the course of the storm were thrown down, others unroofed, and considerable damage done to fences. Mr. Simonton kept tavern in this building, and, in later years, had a store on the corner of Main and Limestone streets, long known as the "Buckeye Corner." He finally sold this establishment to Pearson Spinning and removed to New Carlisle, in this county, where he built a mill on Honey Creek.

Demint found that the demand for lots was growing, and that a preference existed for those which abutted on South, now Main, street, because that was now the thoroughfare, the road running between Dayton and Springfield as before stated having followed this street. Demint, therefore, in the early part of the year 1804, laid out a second addition to the village. This was an extension of the first plat west as far as Race street. In this plat the name of South street was changed to Main street, and the original street by the latter name was obliged to be content with a more modest title.


The First School


Prior to the year 1806, no attention had been paid to the education of the children of the settlement. The rugged life of the pioneer found no great advantage to be derived from learning. They had "books in the running brooks and sermons in stones." A knowledge of woodcraft and uneering skill with the rifle were deemed sufficient for the time. The loose, unrestrained habits which will always vanish as civilization advances, bringing with it culture and respect for order and sobriety, still lingered here. Drunkenness and lawlessness prevailed. The voice of the minister in rebuke was not heard, nor had the influence of religious associations been suggested. But, in 1806, the necessity of establishing a school became apparent, and Nathaniel Pinkered became the founder of the educational system in Springfield. He opened a school in a log house on the northeast corner of Main and Market streets. All the branches embraced in the common school system of that day were taught.

The same year which began the educational history of Springfield found also an awakening interest in religious matters. The Miami Methodist Episcopal Circuit, which was established in 1800, extended northward from Cincinnati and included Clark County within its bounds. There had been but little organization among the church people. Mrs. Smallwood had called several of the sisters in the Methodist Church together and formed a temporary society, but even the itinerant minister had not penetrated before this time into the forests along Mad River. This year, 1806, however, the Miami Circuit was in charge of Rev. John Thompson who extended his labors to Springfield, visiting it at stated periods. Two Methodist preachers named Saile and Goble also preached alternately here every three or four weeks. They held services in the log house on the northeast corner of Main and Market streets, where Pinkered kept his school. Rev. Mr. McGuire rode the circuit in 1807, and Rev. Milligan in 1808. The pulpit was supplied irregularly by ministers of the Miami Circuit until Rev. Saul Henkle, who moved into the place in 1809, began to hold stated religious services. There was also preaching occasionally by ministers of other denominations, who held their services in Foos' tavern or out-doors if the weather permitted. But to the Methodist Church belongs the credit of first establishing public worship.