Springfield, Ohio

History and Genealogy



Granny Icenbarger


From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 441


By Oscar T. Martin

We are indebted to Dr. John Ludlow for the following description of two original characters, for many years familiar to the residents of Springfield:

"'Granny' Icenbarger, as everyone called her, was no ordinary person in the early history of the town. She came here with her family during the war of 1812. They were Germans, and the family consisted of four children, the aforesaid Granny, and a wild and drunken husband. The family were supported by the old lady in the manufacture and sale of cakes and beer, in which capacity she gained a wide popularity among the people of both town and country. She was a woman of unblemished character, and diligent in her calling. She was admitted within the bounds of all camp-meetings, and was a regular attendant of all military musters and other public gatherings, where her cakes and beer were made a part of the programme, and many a hungry and thirsty soul was replenished at her board. Her kindness of disposition to all, especially to the children, gained for her the respect of every individual. She ever had a cake as a reward for kind acts from boys, and all stood ready to befriend her. She was a portly, good-natured and motherly looking person, and lived in town for more than a quarter of a century in its early history.

"For several years after she came, she lived and conducted her business in a log house on the west side of Market street, not far from the southwest corner of Main street. It was while she lived in this cabin that her husband died. He was a small, thin man, with very slender and crooked legs, which seemed to stand very far apart when he walked, and when he was under the influence of liquor, which was nearly always the case, he was extremely noisy, and danced and hopped about in the wildest manner, and was a source of much trouble to his wife. At the time of his death, I remember going to their house, in company with some other boys, to show our sympathy and gratify our curiosity on the occasion.

It was in the evening, and the old lady met us at the door and said to us: 'Law me! poys, te olt man is tet; what a pity!' After telling her son to hold the candle that we might see the remains, she told us, in her simplicity, how much it would cost her to bury him. Nevertheless, we thought she was deeply afflicted at her loss, though we boys expected to see her rejoice at his departure. Granny Icenbarger died in Springfield in 1839."


Joel Walker


In the two-story log house in which the first court was held (near the present location of the First Baptist Church), there lived for many years a very eccentric and notable pioneer named Joel Walker. He came to Springfield among its first settlers, and one of his brothers lived among the Wyandot Indians. Mr. Walker, unlike his brother, was a man of plausible manners and smooth words, whose chief occupation consisted in a careful attention to everybody's business but his own. He was "headquarters" for all the gossip and news of the village, and a standing witness in court. While regularly imbibing his "morning dram," he carefully kept himself from drunkenness and profanity. His greatest vice was the excessive laziness, loafing much of the time, leaving the support of his family to the labors of his wife and daughters. He made a seeming care of the morals and welfare of the community. He wore a stout leather belt, fastened around his body by a large buckle, as a substitute for suspenders, with which he often strapped his boys for being trifling and lazy. By shrewdness or politeness to a stranger, or the proffer of a bunch of tanzy, he procured his "morning dram" at the bar of some tavern, or perhaps by the recital of some funny anecdote, cracking a joke, or giving one of his long and peculiarly loud laughs, he satisfied his love of the ardent for the day. If he had nothing to eat at home, he managed to drop into the house of a neighbor at meal time and accept the invitation to "set up" at the table. He was a very singular man, and, by his eccentricities, he afforded much amusement and fun in the town. So noted were his lazy habits that it became a common expression by any citizen then out of employment, if asked what he was doing, to reply, "Helping Joe Walker."

Another peculiar character was a son of Granny Icenbarger, who was familiarly and widely known as "Gabe." Gabe had inherited some of his father's weak elements, and had several times been arrested for violation of the law. Upon one occasion, he was brought before His Honor, Judge Swan, then Presiding Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, on an indictment for unlawfully selling liquor. Upon his plea of guilty, the Judge announced a fine of $25. Gabe very impudently responded by telling the Judge to charge it, as he had an open account with the county. The indignant Judge added thirty days' imprisonment to the fine. Gabe was hustled off to the jail, but insisted that his kit of tools — being a shoemaker — should be sent with him. Having procured some leather, he worked assiduously at his trade, and when his time expired he refused to leave, when ordered out. He said that he had an understanding with the Judge by which he was to occupy the jail permanently. It was finally necessary to eject him by legal process.


Little Daddy Vicory


Merryfield Vicory, an odd but genial character, located in Springfield in the year 1814, and soon afterward received and held the sobriquet of "Little Daddy Vicory." He was a short, round man, with a jolly face. He had been a drummer in the Revolutionary war, and had his drum shot from his side by a cannon ball at the siege of Yorktown. Mr. Vicory in one instance displayed skill and bravery in catching a thief while stealing some bacon from his smoke house. He seized the thief and tied him fast with a rope, and, it being Sunday morning, kept him in confinement until the horn for church, when he drove the thief down Main street under threatenings of a large club, with two sides of bacon swinging over his shoulders. He went so far in his efforts to humiliate that thief as to take him to the door of the Presbyterian Church and ask the people there assembled if they claimed him as one of their members. The thief was never after seen in the town. Mr. Vicory received a pension from the Government, and, soon after his settlement here, he bought ten acres of land on the old Columbus road, on what afterward became the east end of High street. He was father of Mr. Freeman Vicory, another esteemed citizen, who inherited the property, and spent his days also in Springfield. Mr. Merryfield Vicory was buried with military honors, in March, 1840, aged seventy-seven years.


James Wallace


James Wallace was a native of Kentucky, and came to Ohio when he was a boy of fourteen years old. During the war of 1812, he brought the mail once a week to Springfield on horseback, returning with the same to Cincinnati. He settled in Springfield about the year 1814; apprenticed himself to William Moody, a harness and saddle manufacturer, but, before finishing his trade, he bought the remainder of his time, and, by the assistance of Pearson Spinning, he opened a store in the village of Lisbon. He soon returned, however, and entered Mr. Spinning's store as a partner,* where he and Mr. Fisher, on opposite corners, kept up a lively competition. In 1823, Mr. Wallace had a store in his own name, in the brick building immediately east of the present Mad River National Bank bulding, where for several years he continued as a leading merchant. Mr. Wallace was a very affable man, a good talker, somewhat excitable, and an excellent salesman. He was opposed to any one leaving his store without purchasing goods, and often he was seen enticing customers in from the streets or pavement as they were passing along. He kept a great variety of goods, so it became proverbial, if an article could not be found elsewhere, it could be had at "Jimmy Wallace's." Becoming unfortunately embarrassed in his business in later years, he sold out and left Springfield. He maintained, however, during these and subsequent days, his standing in the Presbyterian Church, and reached a good age ere the day of his death.


* Mr. Wallace returned from Lisbon and was partner with Mr. Spinning on the northwest corner of Limestone and Main streets. In 1823, Mr. Wallace had a store of his own on the northeast corner of Limestone and Main streets. Subsequently Mr. Wallace's store was moved to the brick house named, where the Republic Printing Company is now located.